Thursday, September 20, 2012

Techno happenings at St. Philip the Apostle school!

Hi folks!!

My name is Armando Perez and I'm the chair of the technology subcommittee at St. Philip the Apostle school.

This is my first blog posting on what we are doing on the subcommittee.  We have had a significant amount of progress since the school board formed this subcommittee a couple of years ago.  Just for clarification, the technology subcommittee directly reports to the Policy and Planning committee of the school board.

Now...with the formalities out of the way, let's get started!

Our subcommittee was assigned a strategic goal that was developed with the help of the school board and parents...

"To become one of the top Catholic schools nationwide in the use of technology to better the educational experience of all stakeholders"

Wow...that's a pretty ambitious goal!!  But, it is a challenge that our team wholeheartedly accepted knowing that we would have the potential to provide solutions for supporting the way the teachers want to teach and, as an end result, alter the way our children learn.

Our team hit the floor running.  Over the course of a year, we have accomplished quite a bit.  Below are our current, significant projects and their status...

  • Wireless network system.  Over the hot summer season, while all of you were in the nice cool pools and beaches, we worked extra hard to install a wireless network for the school and Holy Angel hall.  What does this provide?  Teachers will be able to utilize the wireless network for wireless devices (iPads, laptops, etc.) for enhancing the learning experience.  It is also our goal to provide wireless access for the students (and their devices) to allow them to dynamically, and safely, research any subject and allow newer methods of collaboration with other students, teachers and classes, either locally or around the world.  After an exhaustive bidding process with multiple wireless vendors, the technology subcommittee worked very closely with our chosen wireless vendor, Aruba Networks, to design and implement a state-of-the-art network that is scalable, secure, robust and covers the entire campus, including the parking lot!  We are rolling out the wireless network in phases with teachers first, then students and, yes...wait for it....guest access for parents.  
  • Internet upgrade.  Even though we have "high speed" Internet access at the school, it is not enough to support all the potential new devices when students start to connect to the wireless network.  We have been working with multiple vendors on figuring out the best solution to our dilemma.  At this point, the team agreed to explore acquiring a brand new fiber optic connection installed at the school that will provide a substantial increase in current Internet speeds and allow for future expandability, if needed.  This new upgrade will raise the monthly Internet costs, IN ADDITION to construction costs to install the new cabling.  Knowing this, in parallel, we also engaged with a consulting firm that helps schools acquire federal and state funding to help offset the installation and MRC (monthly reoccurring costs) associated with Internet and tele-communication services.  When we hear back on how much funding the school will receive, the decision will be made on whether to proceed on the fiber optic upgrade or explore other options.
There are plenty of other projects we're working, including integrating iPads with AppleTVs, VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) and migrating the school to Google Apps.  I'll post the details of these projects in future blog postings.

I should also note that members of the committee also support the school with day-to-day IT issues. We use modern and secure tools to help maintain the school's and parish's technological infrastructure, including monitoring of critical systems and environmental factors (e.g. we get notified if the computer room gets too hot!).  We can help teachers and staff with issues on their computers, remotely, from any location in the world with an Internet connection.  It's actually very cool stuff :)

If you have any questions, please feel free to send them to technology@stphiliptheapostle.org, or reply to the blog below, and we'll try to answer them.

Thank you for your continued support of St. Philip the Apostle school!

Stay tuned!  :)

PS: Some parents wanted to see the tech subcommittee's video that we prepared for last year's dinner auction.  Here is the link to it...enjoy! -> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJAEfbFrHDY&feature=plcp

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