Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Friday, September 26, 2008
Monday, September 22, 2008
We are a week after the flood and everything is back to normal at our schools. The same can't be said for all of our families, some of which are still homeless or have been greatly impacted by the local flooding.
Last week was an interesting test for us. Over the past year we had fiber optics installed for our data network and we have been transitioning off of our T1 lines. Currently some of our systems are on fiber, some are on T1, and some ride between them.
Last week's flood put an important box of equipment (somewhere between us and AT&T) underwater and behind police barricades. We lost part of our network for 48 hours. Here is what I learned.
1. The more dependable your network becomes the more people rely on it.
- 2 years ago network outages were common here. People counted on the network going down at times. Over the past year we have been down for no more than 10 minutes at a time and but one instance was a planned occurrence (that one was AT&T's fault). Nobody counts on it going down anymore and most everyone is unhappy when it does.
- Last year we added Blackberries to our communication structure. Part of their infrastructure was using the T1 that went out. Without the Blackberries providing email we went through a communication interruption. It was difficult to quickly get a hold of anyone, plus many people didn't have each other's phone numbers because they always email each other. We have to fix that one
- Ok this may be whining, but here goes anyway. How many people called to thank us when we hacked stuff together to get the blackberries working 24 hours into the outage - nobody. How many people were outraged that it didn't work right and they were inconvinienced - lots. Yeah, I am whining.
Posted by Dr. Henry Thiele at 3:13 PM
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Friday, September 12, 2008
This was sent out by the Teacher's Union today and was routed to me by several teachers and was titled “MTA Warning”
“Don’t put too much faith in this technological terror that has been created. . .” (accompanied by a picture of Darth Vader)
A reminder. . .
The use of computers that are associated with the District 207 server/laptops does not guarantee personal security in regards to your computer activity and emails. Avoid the use of the school PC’s to convey personal or highly sensitive information to other people. Your emails can be monitored and read, if the need presents itself. Also, the use of a “Blind Copy” does not guarantee any camouflage either.
If you have to convey personal information in regards to MTA or personal business, it is best to keep it out of the District’s system. Either, contact your building reps personally or use the district email to set up a meeting/conversation, but do not divulge anything of a sensitive nature on the District email.
Also, as of now, anything you place on the Website (outside of the classroom blog) can be accessible to anyone who visits the Website. Be careful of what you place on it in regards to personal information and professional/pedagogical use.
I had already been working on my inaugural letter regarding the newly approved (in February of last year) AUP. So this is what I sent out:
In light of the information provided to you by the MTA, I wanted to follow up with some information regarding the District's Acceptable Use Policy (AUP). As you all know, there is a lot more technology floating around the district this year. I wanted to take a moment to remind everyone of how the District's AUP applies to staff and students. The policy is available at this link: http://www.maine207.org/assets/1/documents/Maine_207_Technology_Policy.pdf
The main ideas behind the AUP are summarized as:
The primary purpose of the District 207 electronic communications network (D207net) and technologies which attach to it is to support and enhance learning and teaching that prepares students for success in an information society. Users have no expectation of privacy in their use of D207net. D207 has the right to access, review, copy, delete, or disclose, as allowed by law, any digitally recorded information stored in, or passed through D207net, regardless of the initial intentions of the user. D207 has the right and responsibility to monitor the use of D207net by its users including tracking of internet, network, hardware, and software use. Employees should be aware that any digitally recorded information, even that of personal nature, can be subject to disclosure under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. Users assume responsibility for understanding the policy and guidelines as a condition of using the network. Staff members are accountable to teach and use the network responsibly. Use of the network that is inconsistent with this policy may result in loss of access as well as other disciplinary or legal action.
In everyday English here is what that means:
1. Everything that passes across out network has the possibility of intentionally or unintentionally being recorded and retained forever.
2. Anything that is on our network is subject to the Freedom of Information Act and other laws that could result in this information being searched and becoming public - nothing you do electronically, on the website or otherwise, should ever be considered private in nature
3. Never do, write, or say anything electronically within the school walls or on a piece of school technology that you wouldn't want published on the front page of a newspaper.
4. You are responsible for anything that happens to your account when logged into a computer, even if you are not in front of it, so remember to log off.
5. Don't store any student records or information on your laptop, jumpdrive, or on anything that can be lost - use SIS to record all of this information.
These are common rules in all schools, and most workplaces, across the United States. Even Microsoft has such policies - they sum it up this way: "Be Smart".
Have a great weekend,
From my perspective, this is all actually a really good thing. From what I understand of the legality of these matters, the union just wholeheartedly supported the intentions of the AUP and let the membership know that they should abide by it. I hope everyone heeds their leadership’s advice. Either way, the combination of the Union’s letter and my email leaves no doubt that all teachers should be following the rules outlined in the AUP.
I understand that some teachers think that this is all there so that the administration can “catch” someone, but really we all hope that these types of policies are never needed. I am hoping that next year the Union and I can sit down together and put together a document together that goes out.
Well I have been away from blogging for a while. We had a crazy summer around here and everyone is back in place. I am setting a goal to offer more to the professional community this year (more details on how later - still piecing this together).
I have been in a reflective mood over the last few days. It has been 14 months since I moved into this new role and I am trying to assess my impact on 207. I came here to work with a large organization to impact change. I'm not quite sure yet if it is all coming together perfectly or if it is tenuously held together with paperclips and bubblegum. I guess only time will answer that one.
There have been a lot of people involved in moving this mountain and we are much further ahead in infrastructure, hardware, software, staffing, and planning. I feel like we are ready for the hardest part - using all of that to impact how learning occurs in the classroom.
We will be working as a technology staff along with teachers over the next few weeks to prepare for the ways that we can use technology to infuse postmodern methodologies of instruction into our classrooms - and perhaps even uncover emerging methodologies.
What do you feel is the most important thing to keep in mind as we embark on this journey?