From the Trenches

Here’s a quick update on several of our projects this year:

Meru Wireless Network: So far, a success for handling a lot of iBooks in two buildings (150 plus). They load balance well, and reduce traffic. Main continuing glitch: no Bonjour for local networking/iChat work. Meru only allows us to open around 8 ports (beyond 80 and other common ports) for sending and receiving specialized traffic, and we haven’t found a way to enable Bonjour yet.

PaperCut Software: So far, it’s raising awareness and reducing our printing, but it’s not fool-proof. To really enable it to work on home-owned laptops, we need to require authentication (user name and password) for every print job. This does slow things down a bit, but for school-owned faculty machines and labs, the pass-through can be automatic on the Windows systems. There’s a “manual code for each printer” work-around for OS X, but it’s tedious.

150 iBooks in the Middle School:
so far, so good, but we have had six broken screens so far this year, compared to two broken screens last year (when we had 75 iBooks). All six cases were accidents or carelessness, but we can’t have that many on a monthly basis. We replace the screens ourselves with $250 replacements, and from this point on we plan to share the costs 50/50 with the families when the screens are broken. 100% if it happens more than once. $125 isn’t too big of a cost to pay, considering that it may cost $600 if done by a shop.

Edline System in US: Good content organization system, but maybe 50% of faculty use it for only minimal participation (syllabus, a few calendar items, grading policy, one picture). We have 100% of faculty and students online, and maybe 70% of the US families with at least one parent login. We hope that they improve both the discussion feature and the file hand-in features for next year.

Third-Party Wax in our Color Xerox Printers: So far, no problems, and it costs almost 50% less than the OEM sticks.

Custom FileMaker Database for SIS System: This system is performing better than ever before for labels, comment writing, transcripts and other daily functions around campus. And it syncs nightly with our business office Senior Systems database for parent/family information.

Loaner Laptops in US: So far, the best uses have been by individual students checking them out for an hour, day, week or semester. This is a program we may double in size next year.

Ed-Tech Blog: Well, I’m still writing to it, right? By the way, it’s snowing outside…

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