Simpson County School’s IT Department Impacts Today’s Learning, Tomorrow’s Innovation
As Director of Technology of Simpson County Schools, I welcome you to the upcoming 2018-2019 school year. Our vision is to be a world-class educational system empowering all students to graduate LIFE-READY – academically and socially prepared for college and/or careers. Our mission – to develop each child to their fullest potential and prepare them for the next level of life.
The mission of the Technology Department is to integrate technology into the educational program in order to:
- improve the quality of education by implementing 21st-century technology
- support the curriculum delivery to help meet the needs of educators
- provide access to technology for all students and staff to enhance achievement
- provide for student-centered learning
- equip students with employability and life skills to become self-sufficient individuals
- enhance communication between district/school and stakeholders
- promote digital citizenship and the proper use of technology
Our school board members, district administrative staff, support staff, teachers, and students have made it a primary goal to ensure that the technology for Simpson County Schools is the best! For us, to stay ahead and on top of the latest technologies, we must continue to place emphasis on our technology program. Our technology program has enhanced student achievement in many ways. Through the use of Intelligent Classrooms (Smart Boards), software programs, educational websites, wireless networking, mobile laptop labs, iPads, and multimedia, our students have unlimited possibilities in the palm of their hands.
Simpson County Schools incorporated Schoology, a Learning Management System (LMS), with all the tools needed for teaching in one easy-to-use platform. In other words, it’s a great tool for creating lessons, grading student work and tracking student progress all with a single sign-on. Teaching and learning does not stop when the bell rings. Students and faculty can continue discussions after class, ask questions any time, communicate instantly, share with each other, and much more with Schoology. Listed below are six key reasons Simpson County Schools has chosen to use Schoology:
- Activity Dashboard with All You Need to Know
- Provides quick access to important events & conversations to all stakeholders
- Easy-to-Use & Flexible Course Tools
- Engage students in media-rich lessons, communicate instantly, and access student performance
- All Resources at Your Fingertips
- Simplifies content management & shares resources instantly
- Simple Communication, Collaboration, and Sharing
- Professional Development, Curriculum Sharing, Parent Outreach, IT Support, Study Group & much more
- Mobile App
- Enhances rich learning experiences on any device (1:1, BYOD)
- Fast Track to Insights
- Engagement & standards-based achievement data (viewable on an individual, course & school level)
As a district, we’ve replaced our switches/hubs for the entire district. These devices are crucial in the operation of all networking capabilities. This upgrade increased our throughput from 1GB to 10GB providing better efficiency. We have also implemented brand new access points on all our campuses increasing bandwidth from 250 Mbps to 500 Mbps pipe to state, as well as upgrading from 75 kbps to 100 kbps per ADA. This upgrade provides faster accessibility in order for more stability in all technology needs.
Also, the IT department has implemented a virtual environment with a Compellent shared storage array. Benefits of virtualization, the risks of virtualization, the benefits of shared storage, the specific benefits to this Compellent solution are described below.
Benefits of Virtualization:
It is important to know that in this day and age nearly everything we do is focused around an application. The application may be a game purchased from the App store on your cell phone, an application to run HVAC systems or an application that our educators use to enhance learning.
With virtualization, we are able to take a single server and virtually divide it into several servers. Each of these virtual servers or virtual machines (VM) were compartmentalized and isolated across the hypervisor. This solution is fantastic and it allows us to purchase applications without always having to purchase a new server to run them. These tools have increased the productivity of the IT department.
Benefits of Shared Storage:
With shared storage, you take all the information that your applications need to run and put them on a single highly resilient storage solution with several redundancies’s built in. This allows your servers to be used only for their resources (processors and RAM) then with the right virtualization software your VMs can pass from one server to another without disruption because all the data they need lives on the Compellent array. The ability to move virtual machines from server to server without having to bring down an application is an enormous benefit to our IT department. With the correct virtualization software if any of the servers were to fail the VMs would move to a working server automatically, and none of the users would know it.
The Technology Department has implemented a major overhaul in regards to our backend support infrastructure. Currently, we have implemented a remote imaging tool, named FOG that allows us to install custom operation system images to multiple computers at once. The program PDQ Deploy and PDQ Inventory will allow for remote, unattended installation of applications over the network. These tools, along with SolarWinds (IT infrastructure management software), will help the Technology Department better serve the thousands of devices deployed in Simpson County Schools. As we move forward, the staff and students will see more efficient service and faster response times on smaller or lower priority issues.
In addition to our classrooms, labs, and libraries having computers, we continue to add mobile (laptop) and iPad carts. We have installed approximately two hundred new devices this summer. These devices have been spread out over all our campuses. At Franklin and Simpson Elementary School’s we replaced every instructional classroom projector this summer. After systematically replacing our older projectors with new laser projectors this summer at Franklin and Simpson Elementary, we will see significant money savings considering bulb replacement and maintenance.
Simpson County Schools became only the eleventh district in the state to integrate Google Apps for Education (GAFE). GAFE is a core suite of free productivity tools that promote not only classroom collaboration but that of the school and district in its entirety. Some of the tools include docs, slides, sheets, and classroom. Classroom allows teachers to create, share, and grade assignments with ease and organization. With the overwhelming addition of technology devices district-wide, GAFE provides an easy collaboration tool for every student and staff member.
Simpson County Schools Transportation Department implemented a cloud-based solution this summer called Traversa. Traversa is a comprehensive program, which includes functionality for routing, fleet maintenance, activity trips, along with many other functions all built from the beginning as one system. No other student transportation solution today offers this kind of all-inclusive, fully integrated functionality. Traditionally, transportation software has been offered piecemeal, with different interfaces, different data sources, and different requirements for training and installation. Traversa offers a seamless user experience.
- Route buses
- Plan event trips
- Track work orders
- Schedule fleet maintenance
- Track GPS data
- And more — all within the same unified system!
To help keep and maintain safety throughout all campuses, our ID/Badge card readers and security cameras at all of our campuses including our sporting facilities as well providing substantial coverage. The IP Sonitrol cameras are capable of zooming in clearly on not only live but recorded footage and have proved very valuable in even the short time they have been utilized. The system installed is modular and as time and budget allow is capable to upgrade, add additional or replace existing older equipment. Health monitoring and connecting to the existing verified panic systems allows Sonitrol operators to view a potential threat in real time and notify responding law enforcement were features no other competitors could offer.
Our STLP (Student Technology Leadership Program) in Simpson County Schools continues to grow and be a huge success. The Student Technology Leadership Program uses project-based learning to empower students to use technology to learn and achieve. The Mission of STLP is to advance the individual capabilities of students, to motivate all students, and to create leadership opportunities through the use of technology.
STLP focuses on the following:
- Developing activities that enhance the academic, social and emotional growth of the student.
- Providing leadership opportunities for all students.
- Experiencing multi-age collaboration by forming innovative learning partnerships.
- Forming learning partnerships between students with different technical skills.
- Developing activities that benefit communities.
- Developing instructional activities, which integrate technology and benefit the school and support the Kentucky Education Technology System (KETS).
This past fall, students from FSHS, FSMS, LES, SES and FES competed at the Regional Student Technology Leadership Program Fall Showcase at Western Kentucky University. Several of our teams advanced to the State STLP Championship, which was held at the University of Kentucky’s Rupp Arena this past spring and received many awards/trophies for their showcases. This is a great opportunity for Simpson County students to participate in project-based learning that builds 21st century technology skills and encourages technology use in the classroom.
The Simpson County Schools hosted our fourth annual “STEAM” technology showcase March 23rd, 2017. STEAM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Math. It was a huge success! Students K-12 participated in displays, presentations and projects showcasing 21st century skills to parents and community members. We look forward to next year’s showcase being even bigger and better.
As you are aware, technology is such a vital tool and part of our continuing education for our students. Simpson County Schools is continuously striving to improve student learning through the use of technology. We are committed to utilizing many forms of technology to enhance and serve our students at the highest level. Our goal is to better prepare them for this constantly changing "Technological World" in which we live today!