By Ian Adler
The rainbow spinning wheel has been showing up on computers in classrooms throughout the high school this school year. With technology issues in the classrooms, district officials have been responding to each case, hoping to make technology use efficient and useful.
The future looks bright for technology here at Red Lion, although there are guaranteed to be speed bumps along the way. “Our goal is to bring teachers and students the best customer service possible,” Supervisor of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Mr. Eric Wilson said.
The district experiences login bugs, network errors and even an occasional internet outage.
“There were a lot of wireless devices added to the district over the past year and moved to different parts of the buildings where wireless coverage was not increased,” District Network Manager Dustin Boyd said in an email interview. This overload of traffic on wireless hotspots appears to be the culprit of the slow internet speeds.
It’s no secret that the school is going to need to increase its arsenal of wireless hotspots. “We are constantly monitoring the wireless coverage and adding devices where they are needed. Currently, we are looking at doing a complete wireless assessment over the summer to make sure these issues are resolved for the following school year,” Boyd said.
The technology department also received multiple requests for individuals not being able to log into the macbook carts. This seems to be a mix of wireless coverage and the version of OSX the macbooks are running.
“We are returning some of the carts back to the older version of OSX that have less issues with network connectivity,” Boyd said. “This is a fairly time consuming process so we cannot do all the carts at one time, but we are working on resolving the issue.”
As far as the internet outages go, “There are multiple points from the source to the school where the internet can fail. It all depends on the different situations,” Wilson said.
Some classrooms have trouble connecting to the server, having better luck on some days than others. The wireless internet rarely has totally shut down all across the high school, rendering online work impossible.
“We don’t have control over most of the things that could go wrong.” Wilson said.
Turnover in the Tech. Staff. Mr. Jared Mader, who left the district in 2013, was the director of technology and he oversaw the network and also educational technology, according to Wilson. Currently, the district technology staff consists of several different people.
“Currently, Dustin Boyd, Network Manager, focuses on hardware, and I focus on educational technology, so we work together to fill the position,” Wilson said.
Between the departure of Mr. Mader and the appointment of Mr. Wilson, Global Data Consultants provided network services, according to Wilson.
At the end of January, several students weighed in about their experiences with technology in the high school. “I know a lot of kids experience trouble with it, but I really don’t,” junior Jen Owrutsky said. “I think it’s been a really big help with everything in class.”
“I think it’s better in some classrooms than others,” Owrutsky said.
“We use the computers in physics for a variety of activities,” junior Grant Fickes said. However, “There are pop-ups everyday and sometimes the applications run quite slow. The internet usage is somewhat spotty at times.”
“The internet goes down at least once a week,” Senior Ben Logan said. “It’s just hard to do stuff on technology at school.”
With the growing dependence on technology in this day and age, Red Lion has, and plans to continue to, expand its use of technology.
“At this point in time we’ve had a lot of professional development opportunities for teachers to learn how to use technology services and incorporate it into their classrooms,” Wilson said. “Since early November, we have been working to make sure that we have a face for our tech staff for the different buildings.”
He wants to have the best support for the students and staff by having two dedicated technology support staff members making the system run smoothly, including Mr. George Leitheiser and Mrs. Amanda Stikeleather.
“Mrs. Stikeleather and Mr. Leithiser will be the only staff working here (the high school) so people can develop a relationship with them. Our tech staff is awesome, they’re very knowledgeable and they work very hard,” Wilson said.
It seems impossible to fight the growth and dependence on technology not only in the classroom, but also everyday life. With the right understanding, Red Lion as a whole can really look forward to their experiences with technology in the future.
As for addressing long-term concerns, the district plans to make careful plans for the future. “We prefer to take the time to make the right decision instead of a quick decision,” Wilson said.
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