Monday, June 9, 2014

For shame!

Alas, apologies are required.  The last update was in September and now the school year is ending.  Where did the time go?

Well, within the tech committee, we've been very productive!  Here is a current run down of the major projects we have completed towards the end of this year...
  • Chromebooks galore!  The Chromebooks have been a great success at St. Philip.  So much so that, by the beginning of the 2015 school year, all of the junior high classes will have Chromebooks available for their use!  This means we will have close to 200 Chromebooks that the students and teachers can use for their learning!  This will promote the vision of "differentiated learning," which is an effect of how technology is properly implemented into education to enhance each student's individual learning experience.  A VERY exciting time for our school!
  • Upgrading of the computer lab.  The computer lab had VERY old computers and the "operating system" in use on these computers (Windows XP) was no longer supported starting in April 2013.  Chromebooks were temporarily installed to address this.  Next year, the computer lab will proceed forward with new computers and will be consolidated with the A.L.L (Advanced Learning Lab)
  • The designing of a technology support framework that provides guidance on how best to support the technology needs of the school.  This framework allows teachers and staff to be an integral part of supporting each other, promote collaboration all the while minimizing external consultative services.  This provides the anticipated substantive benefit of reducing support costs associated with the maintaining of the advanced technologies in use at the school, while building camaraderie and ownership among all constituents 
  • Upgrading of the network security, auditing and protection framework.  This includes the implementation of the most up to date technologies that will enhance and further protect the students and staff from malware, viruses and other threats that are out in the Internet
In addition, this blog entry marks the end of my tenure as the chair of the technology committee.  Words cannot describe the amazing satisfaction and joy I have received while working with the talented and thoughtful visionary members that comprise the technology committee.  The technology committee has received such incredible support from not only the school board, but all the staff and parents at the school and parish.  During the past three years, we have literally left no stone unturned in terms of technology.  I'm sure there were teachers, at times, who had choice words for us while we implemented tools and worked out the kinks in the process!  And for this, we thank you for your patience!   All of this would not be possible if it were not for the unquestionable trust from all, especially Jennifer Ramirez (thank you Jennifer!).  All of you trusted us to be the visionaries and lead.  Hopefully, we didn't disappoint.

I also wanted to take the opportunity to thank the foundational people that came before us that had the vision to construct the computer network infrastructure that we utilized in our work.  Such members include Jim Andric, Joe Sanders and the rest of the design team during the construction of the new school buildings.  Without their vision and work, we would have had a MUCH more difficult time in enabling the technologies the school takes advantage of today!

John Salvatierra, Tom Andre and Eric Muntz will co-chair the technology committee next year.  They have their work cut out for them.  However, I have great faith in their ability to continue to fulfill our strategic goal of becoming a top Catholic school nationally in using technology to better the educational experience.  

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Chromebooks and iPads are in the house! (or classrooms :))

The school received a generous donation of $25,000 from an anonymous donor (may God reward you!).  This donation had only one requirement - it had to be used on new technology for the students of St. Philip.  With this donation in hand, the school purchased 64 brand new Chromebooks and 30 iPad Minis, along with the appropriate charging carts.  This past Monday evening, a group of teachers and volunteers proceeded to activate all the Chromebooks for use on our wireless network.  On Tuesday, the teachers started to use the new Chromebooks in their classrooms.

The initial results have been phenomenal.  A new excitement level was noted by the teachers and students who used the Chromebooks in their classrooms.  It was truly radiant to see the teacher's excitement in receiving new tools to reach their students.  Next week, the iPads should be available for use as well.

After several YEARS of planning and hard work by the technology committee and volunteers, we have achieved a major milestone!

Below are some pictures from Monday night and Tuesday.  And yes, that is my son lending a hand as well!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Our new wireless network had its first "scale" test and...

Last week, the school held a workshop located in Holy Angel Hall.  Other teachers/members from surrounding schools were also in attendance.

I received a request to open the new wireless network to the participants.  Given that we had just installed our new high speed, fiber optic Internet connection, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to test the design/scalability of our new wireless network and Internet connection.

When we were designing the wireless network, we designed it to accommodate up to 100 devices in each classroom and up to 400 devices in Holy Angel Hall.  This seems like an excessive amount but as newer mobile/computing devices are mostly wireless, we felt it wise to plan for more wireless devices as Wi-Fi is becoming the de-facto standard for network connectivity (for now at least).

When the workshop was occurring, we monitored the entire wireless system.  The wireless system had approximately 65 devices total with 60 of them just in Holy Angel Hall.

Our wireless system is quite sophisticated in that we're able to determine what type of wireless devices were operating, with the predominate device being, not surprising, the iPad.  Other devices appearing were iPhones, Android devices, Windows and Mac computers - full spectrum of devices.

At the end of the workshop, the wireless system maximum utilization was under 3% and the maximum utilization of the new Internet connection around 10% of total capacity.  Our new wireless system and Internet connection performed flawlessly.

As teachers and students want to introduce technology into the classroom, the St. Phillip computing infrastructure is now officially ready.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

New projectors for the school!

Well, this past Saturday, we had an amazing event occur.

With the leadership of Eric Muntz, a technology committee member and school parent, the installation of 19 brand new projectors and speakers was performed!

Over the course of several months and with the support of the technology committee, Eric had the formable task of managing the entire project of updating the audio and video systems in the classrooms which included designing, testing and implementation!  Whoa!  Big shoes to fill and he did so admirably!   Thank you Eric!

We had approximately 20+ volunteers show up this past Saturday to help install the new projectors and speakers.  Once Eric provided the foundation on how to install the projectors and speakers, the volunteers headed out to the classrooms!  It was great to see the synergy of all the volunteers.  Here are pictures of some of the hard working volunteers!

Was it perfect?  By all means no...we had issues with wall material, drills and screws.  But, all of us pulled together to get through these bumps and did so with flying colors!

A HUGE thanks to all the volunteers!  We know you all worked hard (all day!) and we greatly appreciate it!  And, of course, a MASSIVE thank you to Eric for managing all this!

And, finally, all of this effort would not have been possible without the GENEROUS donation of the projectors and speakers by the John and Dorothy Shea Foundation.

St. Philip's teachers, children and parents greatly appreciate all of the people involved in this effort.

"Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed." 
Proverbs 19:17

Sunday, June 16, 2013

It has been awhile!

Hello folks!

Well...first and foremost, let me apologize   It's been MONTHS since I posted any status on our tech blog.  Boo!  I'm hoping you will forgive me as I'm now going to provide you some updates on the amazing things that the tech committee has been working on!

Without further hesitation, here is what we've been working on...
  1. New computers for the teachers!  Due to the generous donation given by the Ahmanson group, we are in the process of installing brand new computers (Mac) for the teachers.  We have finished installing the first phase of computers (about 14) and will complete the remaining (about 8) at the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year.  In addition, all of the teachers will receive training on how best to utilize their new Macs.  We will also be replacing the old and failing Windows computers in use by the school's administration team.  
  2. During the summer (we don't take breaks! :)), we will install brand new projectors in the classrooms.  A couple of teachers in the tech committee have been testing a "short throw" projector that has produced some amazing results.  In addition, we will install interactive whiteboards that will allow the teachers to interact with their computers from their whiteboards.
  3. By the end of July, the Internet connection at the school will be upgraded to a fiber optic based system.  Due to the amazing work between the development coordinator (thank you Colleen!) and our eRate consultants, the school will not see an increase in the cost associated with the new Internet connection.  However, the increase in the performance of the new Internet connection will be significant - about a 10x increase - with the capability to easily add on more if needed.  We are already ahead of the ConnectED initiative proposed by President Obama earlier this month!
The Technology Committee continues to work hard for the parish, school and the children of St. Philip the Apostle!  

The Technology Committee also wants to thank all of YOU for your continued support!!!  God bless all of you!

Have a great and safe summer!

Monday, November 5, 2012


In this posting, we try to explain some of the motivation behind our actions and our goal to help our teachers, their helpers and, ultimately, the student.

In every school, including St. Philip, there is a certain percentage of students that either excel (above the norm) in the classrooms or are challenged and require additional time/teacher.  It could be one subject, or just a different learning technique/style associated with the student.  This group of students sometimes equates to 10% of the total school population that needs additional services, whether it be enrichment or supportive services.

Traditionally, every teacher (and their helpers) in every classroom has to accommodate all students and keep all them learning at the same rate.  It is a very challenging position to be in with all of the items/lessons that need to be taught in a year.  Teachers have one of the most stressful jobs in the world, especially now with the frantic drive to reform education.

Schools cannot handle all of the students needs all the time, even with excellent programs like STEP.  Teachers are striving to meet the needs of all of the students and technology is one more way to help them to achieve their goal.

Our committee wants to help teachers to reach this goal.

We are committed to providing our teachers and students new tools to better the education process.  One aspect of the reform in education today promotes the personalization of education.  With these tools, the teacher now has the amazing ability to reach every child at where they are at developmentally.  But, it is a new world and our committee is committed to ensuring that this amazing palette of tools is available for use, responsibly, by our teachers and students.

We want the 10% to be 0% with EVERY student excelling....this is our dream for our children.

Monday, October 8, 2012


In the second blog posting, I wanted to discuss what is going on in the classroom, in terms of updating the tools in them.

Almost all the St. Philip classrooms haven't had their technology tools updated since the new school building was built.  We are overdue in assessing what needs updating!

Here are some items that we have identified...

  • The teacher's computers are failing and are outdated.  Most of these computers are over five years old and their components are starting to fail
  • EVERY teacher uses their computer in different capacities...some push their computers to their maximum potential but are limited with the older technology
  • The operating system in use on the majority of computers at the school, Windows XP, will no longer be supported starting in April, 2014
  • The classrooms need a collaboration system that can allow classes to engage with other classes/teachers around the world.  In addition, it is very difficult for students to share their electronic creations/portfolio in the classrooms today.  This involves reviewing all audio/video requirements for the classroom, including interactive tools like smartboards/iPads/AppleTVs
  • No full time computer staff member that can sustain all of the above.  This all done with some of the staff at the school but mostly handled by volunteers
Given these items, we are exploring newer tools/methodologies that support our vision of mobility and access anywhere...
  • The transition of most IT services to the "cloud"...this provides St. Philip great opportunities in terms of flexibility, backup and cost savings.  We are currently transitioning the majority of school staff and upper grade students over to Google Apps.  We have already successfully moved Destiny's Quest to the cloud!  And, from an IT perspective, we don't have to worry about support and backing up data, which require a fair amount of resources that the school currently doesn't have much of
  • Allow the applications that are in use by the school to be available, securely, on any desktop (not just Windows)
  • The exploration of DaaS (or Desktop as a Service) - Computer desktops in the "cloud"...teachers and staff may gain access to their computer "desktop," securely, from any device or "zero client," not just from their computer
  • Update the computers in use by teachers.  Computers are needed more than ever, but we will assess the needs of each teachers and design an appropriately solution per teacher
  • Audio/Video/Conference integrated systems
  • Provide training for staff on utilize modern tools
  • Explore staff/consulting services for supporting the school's IT needs
  • The updating of the computer and Accelerated Learning labs
  • Reduced power consumption - to keep inline with the green initiatives of the school
Exciting times are ahead for the school!! Stay tuned!

As always, if you have any questions, please send them to