Due to the Jewish holidays, I haven't had a lot of time to keep the blog updated, so I'll try to briefly summarize 6 hectic weeks of the beginning of a new school year and the first-ever introduction of server technology to our Middle School students and faculty.
So far, so good. We have achieved what I believe to be about 80% to 90% of our goals. In terms of the introduction of new technology to aid our faculty, that has been a smashing success. We have successfully created a group, online faculty calendar that has become an essential part of our on-going planning process and has become indispensible. We also created all-new faculty emails associated with our school's domain name and that has helped to separate our personal from the professional emails.
The only sore spot has been creating and maintaining our own internal web page for teachers to show case class projects and student work, post homework and share announcements. We are instead relying on a public wiki site that we used last year. I suppose I still have to develop some more expertise with web publishing before we can tackle this. As it is, it has been a tremendous challenge (but fun) to become a network administrator and learn how to manage our email and group calendar accounts.
A last sore spot, but which is rapidly being addressed, is the creation of our on-line database to generate report cards for the students. After many difficulties with outside technical consultants, we are finally Beta-testing our system and trying to get it up and running before we have to start filling in our first report cards for the first trimester. So this is keeping us all busy at the moment.
In terms of the students, they love having server-based home folders to store and access their notes and share documents with each other without having to email the documents. I created an network structure which both faculty and students have yet to fully take advantage of, but they are all slowly getting the feel of it, and learning the value of the network. Judaically, it is great to have finally uploaded all of the Hebrew Bible and the Mishnah on the server, so that the students can download and immediately access sources and texts when they want and need.
We have had our fair share of difficulties integrating PC users (mostly the faculty) into a primarily Mac dominated student environment--troubles accessing the wifi network and wireless printing, but we are slowly working out the kinks. So overall, this is indeed a tremendous success!