Author: Thomas Bednarz

S2 Week 12 (12 May 2016)

This week we are hoping to continue work on the new desk. At the moment, it is in the shop awaiting further cuts and a lot of sanding down from the students in shop classes. Mike is basically heading up that aspect of the desk-building as he takes a couple engineering classes himself.
The wiring for the desk has mostly been completed, and I’m super excited to finally move into the desk once it’s assembled. The other thing I’m looking forward to is working on new upgrades to the school’s WiFi and central switching systems; we are hopefully replacing our core switch and are definitely adding a ton of new WiFi access points to the building. This project would allow me to expand my knowledge in ISTE’s standard on technology operations and concepts, so I am looking forward to that aspect of the project as well.

S2 Week 10 & 11 (25 April 2016)

The past two weeks we have been preparing finally to get started with assembling the physical desk. Recently they have been working in the wood shop to cut the plywood boards to shape & length. We are also waiting on a small shipment from Amazon to make the desk really look unique.
Moreover I’ve been helping the Technology Department test a new cloud filter called Securly that they would like to use on the district’s iPads. We’ve thoroughly used ISTE’s standards on problem solving and innovation in order to spot & diagnose a few issues, but overall I think that it’s a definite improvement over the old system.

S2 Week 9 (4 April 2016)

Unfortunately, the conference we were planning on going to last week was cancelled at the last minute. It turns out that a number of school districts had to drop out of presenting due to budget concerns… it is a shame, because I was looking forward to going! Hopefully there will be more opportunities like this one in the future.
In the meantime, we worked on tracking down the last of what we need to get started on actually putting the physical desk together. At the meeting we looked at getting the last of our order from Amazon as well as getting the maintenance department on board with the power outlets and ethernet ports that we’d like to have. The entire project is a tribute to the ISTE standards on communication and collaboration as well as the standard for critical thinking and problem solving.

S2 Week 8 (17 March 2016)

Now that the Musical has ended this week we have been preparing for the Allegheny Intermediate Unit conference on March 31st. The date is coming up fast, so we have been using the standards for creativity and innovation and for communication and collaboration in order to put together an effective presentation showcasing what we’ve done & accomplished so far in the SMART Desk.
In other news, Mike let me know that the wood for the physical SMART Desk arrived in the shop today, and with any luck we will have the other items needed before Spring Break, so that we can start work on the desk immediately after we get back from the conference. I am super excited for this and am looking forward to finally having a place to sit that we can call our own.

S2 Weeks 5, 6, and 7 (7 March 2016)

For the past couple weeks, I have been spending most of of time working on the technical aspects of the high school’s production of the spring musical, White Christmas. During production, I’ve been using the theater’s sound and lighting systems to help bring the stage to life. This year, the theater rented a new lighting console in order to better control the theater’s lighting systems. The ETC Ion is a powerful tool that required me to use ISTE’s standards for technology operations and concepts as well as critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making throughout the lighting design process. Overall, I am glad that I was able to work with this equipment, and I am excited that technical theater is getting more and more technologically advanced as time goes on. With any luck, we will be able to have the lighting console permanently in the theater… but for now, it’s just wishful thinking!

From the help desk side of SMART Desk, things have been relatively quiet. I have received a few questions from people in classes or whom I pass in the hallways, but otherwise there has not been much going on. I’ve spent some of that free time with ISTE’s standard on research and information fluency and keeping myself up-to-date with whatever’s going on in the world of tech.

S 2/Week 4 17 Feb 2016

Last week was rather quiet, and I took the opportunity to relax a little bit and explore some of the topics that interested me. I looked into the printing system that we used as well as the printers themselves, and I also read about Amazon’s cloud service, AWS, and how people are using the cloud to keep their data backed up and secure. I focused mainly on the ISTE standards for research information and fluency and technology operations and concepts this week.

S 2/Week 3 Feb 08 2016

Last week was rather quiet, and we mostly dealt with the usual range of help tickets. We have, however, gotten a few new tickets from students directly, which is good news: it means that people know how to contact us and where to find our website. Being able to make the presence of our program known is an important part of the ISTE standards for communication and collaboration, so it’s exciting when people are aware of us and know that we are here to help them.

At the last meeting we talked briefly about the name of SMART Desk and whether it was fitting for the direction of the program. Someone brought up also that the SMART in SMART Desk doesn’t really stand for anything, even though its spelling assumes the title is an acronym. Another person mentioned that the title implies you have to be “super smart” in order to join, but that definitely isn’t what we’re going for; there are many different types of people that ought to be on SMART Desk that definitely wouldn’t identify themselves as “super smart” either. For the moment I’m not too sure about this idea, but I’ll continue looking into it and thinking about any possibilities that might come up in the future.

S 2/Week 2 Feb 02 2016

This week I have done a few tickets regarding teacher computers, and of course there have been the usual problems with the laptop carts. I have also been helping several staff & students who have either walked up to the desk or asked me during a class to help them with their computers. In this way I was able to satisfy ISTE’s standard for critical thinking and problem solving this week.

At the meeting today (Wednesday), I am hoping to hear an update on the approved funding for our physical desk; the sooner we are able to start our portion of the project, the sooner we will be able to work (and “live”!) at our new desk. I liked the idea from the last meeting or two ago that we could “enlist” the help of either art or engineering class students to help with some of the labor-intensive. With any luck, we should be able to find times when a lot of us can be available to work on this.

S 2/Week 1 Jan 25 2016

This week we’ve had about the same number of tickets as we usually do, except for the project for Mr. Petrick (which I will check up on next week) and a couple of laptop issues that we’re still tracking down.
At the meeting on Friday we talked about a conference that we as a group would to go to and present about our class/program curriculum. I’ve taken a look at it, and I’m excited to be able to use the ISTE standards to make a good presentation… but also to have the opportunity to expand SMART Desk to school districts beyond our own :)

1st Semester Wrap-Up

The last few weeks after break I’ve busied myself with Finals and with an influx of tickets that came in after school started. There have been the usual problems with the school’s printers, but we’ve also been noticing some recurring issues with the laptops: in one case, they occasionally lose their WiFi profiles and are unable to connect to the internet, in another case Finder (or some other application?) does not close correctly when logging out, so the computer becomes frozen. We’re still looking into the root cause of the issues… which would fall under “critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making” in ISTE.

The first semester overall I think went pretty well. We’ve been able to clarify more the goals & expectations of SMART Desk, and we’ve made big strides in expanding to both students and teachers as well as making ourselves more known. Looking forward, we will definitely need to continue reaching out and letting people know we exist (having the desk built will help!) Finally, both we as a group and myself personally have been able to help both teachers and staff alike on larger projects eg. the reservations system, the peer tutoring website, expanding our own website with help pages and blog posts, and recently a Google Forms implementation that I’ve taken up with a teacher here. All of this falls under the ISTE standards like creativity and innovation, communication and collaboration, and technology operations and concepts.

Hopefully now that Finals have ended, we will be able to get started soon on building the physical desk now that it has been approved. We’ll probably talk about it on the meeting next Wednesday (1/20). I’m looking forward to the second semester, too, and then being able to work here again over the summer.