Technology Priorities for 15-16

Mission: To support the instructional and operational pillars of the charter, specifically project-based learning, enhanced learning, and service learning, so that our students can become college ready, active citizens and life-long learners.

Vision: To provide equitable access to instructional technology for all students, teachers and staff.

I’ve found it a challenge this year to communicate how the technology team is supporting instruction this year, so I’d like to outline our initiatives here.

  1. End User Support.
    1. Technology Support Assistant. YPICS has added a part time technology support position for each school site, who is tasked primarily with making sure the classroom instructional technology is operational. They respond to support tasking via the help desk system at http://www.ypics.org/hd/ and do such things as troubleshoot connectivity issues, reinstall student computers and assist with audio visual equipment issues. Our goal is to deal with each ticket as quickly as possible, within 24 hours during the week for most immediate issues. Some situations may require research, but we will communicate with the ticket originator within 24 hours during the week via the help desk system. (write an example)
    2. OS X client management. We have implemented the Casper/JAMF mobile device management system, which puts a software agent on each YPICS Mac device. This agent allows us to get inventory information and push out configurations and software changes automatically. This tool helps us respond to change requests without necessarily touching the affected device.
    3. Anti-Virus. We have added the Avast Antivirus package to all OS X clients, which automatically updates the antivirus definitions daily and shields the user from most malicious software, including browser based attacks. This software is being added to the computers over the course of this week, more than 500 machines have been installed so far.
    4. Printer Support. We have replaced the HP 2015 printers with HP 401, and can automatically set up the queues on YPICS managed computers.
  2. Robust Network Stability
    1. Managed services. We have secured the services of a network management company called 7LITS. They are based in Granada Hills and assist with troubleshooting and management of the switching and wifi networks.
    2. Upgraded infrastructure. We have replaced the content firewall, core router and wifi controller with more modern equipment, and have leveraged the district’s high-speed wifi network wherever possible.
    3. Cloud based services. We have migrated the primary web server, database and device management system server to Amazon Web Services, rather than hosting them in-house. This allows us a great deal of flexibility in management and configuration, and has proven to be more reliable that local hosting.
  3. End User Data / Asset Security
    1. Branding. Using the device management system, we have branded the login screen and added a confidentiality warning to all staff laptops. We are in the process of branding the student computer login screens as well.
    2. Encrypted file systems for staff laptops. We will work with each staff member over the rest of the year to add file system encryption (File Vault) to secure student and parent data in case of laptop theft. This requires the use of a user password as the encryption key, and can take a few hours to initially take effect.
    3. Inventory. We are using the device management system to maintain a digital inventory of all YPICS Mac devices, which allows the tech team to identify systems and anticipate issues such as battery end of life and software updates.
  4. Data Access and Analysis
    1. Illuminate. We are in the process of moving from Powerschool SIS to the IlluminateISI, which will allow us to generate student data reports much more easily, and in formats that are visual and colorful, so they are easier to interpret. You can learn more about this process by following the Illuminate Transition Process blog.
  5. Inventory / Cost Controls
    1. Asset tagging. We are in the process of adding asset tags to each YPICS device.
    2. Budgeting. Each school site has budget for consumables that I manage in coordination with site and YPICS admin.
  6. Technician Training
    1. Friday training meetings. The tech team meets via Google Hangout each Friday at 11am to go over current issues and to pursue more advanced topics, such as network engineering and server administration for future certifications.
  7. Documentation
    1. Runbook. The tech team is developing a “runbook” that contains all of the processes and procedures necessary to support technology integration at YPICS schools.
  8. Teacher Technology Training
    1. Professional development. Through collaborating with the Coordinators of Instruction and YPICS administration, we will be supporting the teacher PD process.