Thursday, May 15, 2008

Lafayette, website, Elementary, CCJDS, May 15, 2008

In the last six weeks of the school year, time speeds up. There is a palpable sense of a sliding down a huge water slide towards summer going faster and faster! And our educational technology experiment has been a tremendous success! We have achieved nearly 99% of our very ambitious goals--we set up a school server for use by the faculty, designed and created the entire network of user accounts and shared folders and resources, we now have a school-based email system, a shared group calendar for the faculty to plan, new digital cameras and microphones for podcasting and creating digital presentations, and upgraded our school-wide wifi network. And although we were way behind schedule, we have established the foundation for bringing our report card input system online for faculty to be able to access via a password protected FileMaker Server system and created a custom-designed database for this. And in the process, I went from being the Rabbi-in-Residence of the school to being the "go-to" tech guy! It has been fun, but it has taken a lot of my time!

In terms of a timeline--we have completed the experiment! We have set up the foundations of a new level of technology in the school. Once you have a server and network accounts and people start using them, you can never go back again! People find them too valuable and accessible! We have also spent all of the money from the AVI CHAI grant already--and more so, but at least it was covered in our school's overall budget allocation for technology.

From here on out, our plans our to see if we get the Legacy Heritage Foundation grant to purchase a SMART Board and then begin the process learning how to use it myself, and then of trying to win over fellow teachers to actually use it and then teach the students how to start to create their own modules for class presentation.

The usefulness of the network server is now especially clear as the students have been creating the Yearbook, uploading and swapping and editing photos, creating layouts of pages that everyone can access anywhere anytime they have the availability at home or school. Before, it used to be just one computer laptop that got passed from one student to another and from one teacher to another to keep all the files on one HD to control version consistency (since we have no computer lab). But the server network has vastly opened the opportunity for kids to participate all at the same time!

After the introduction (hopefully!) of a SMART Board, the new challenge will be to both transfer and set up the network in a our new school building by move in of Fall 2009!

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