Author: Thomas Bednarz

Week 12

Yesterday, Mike, Tyler, and I presented to the superintendents our proposal to build the SMART Desk “Desk”. Luckily, our presentation went really well and we were able to get all of our funding approved. I’m looking forward to working on the desk in the upcoming 2nd semester. The entire presentation played into ISTE’s standard on communication and collaboration.
There have been a few tickets and a few other issues regarding laptops this week, but otherwise it has been quiet. There were also some problems with the copiers in the Copy Room and in Social Studies Planning; the rep from Amcom was here yesterday, so hopefully the printers will get serviced soon after the holidays.

Week 11

This week we have been preparing for the SMART Desk “Desk” presentation on Tuesday the 22nd. We’ve made a pretty nice presentation, and after the practice session this morning I am hopeful that things will go well (but I am still nervous!) I really believe in this project, especially since it covers so many of the standards we set for ourselves based off of ISTE, including creativity and innovation and critical thinking and problem solving.
There hasn’t been too much going on this week in the way of tickets, but there have been some issues with the copiers in Social Studies and in the Copy Room, as always. I personally would not get too relaxed, though, as I’m sure after winter break there will be plenty of things to work on.

Week 10

I was hoping to comment on the SMART Desk meeting today, but, unfortunately, we had to cancel the meeting. Hopefully we will be able to get through preparations and present our plan for the physical desk soon. It might be better to have a separate meeting to keep plans for the physical desk on schedule (or put it back on schedule…), but obviously time constraints are an issue.

I’ve been working a lot on laptop and a couple of unrelated tickets this week, and I was also able to help Mrs. Despines and Ms. Rentschler with setting up and getting to know the Promethean board that we’ve added to the back of the library. I also took the time to learn a little bit more about the Promethean software myself (6. technology operations & concepts)… like I told Mrs. Despines, the ActivInspire software is nice because you can use as much or as little of its features as you’d like; some people only use the pen/eraser/highlighter, while others use the revealer, ActivVotes, draw boxes, …

In other news, this week we reached 500 closed tickets in the SMART Desk department since it was established. Personally, I think that’s really cool because it shows how much we’ve been able to help the students & staff over the past year and a half. Maybe by the end of the year it’ll be 1000? :)

Week 9

We had a meeting on Wednesday before break to discuss plans for putting together the SMARTDesk “Desk”. I think it is coming together fairly well, and (hopefully) we will be able to present our plan and get started right away. There were some concerns about how long each portion of building the desk would take, particularly with sanding the surfaces and staining them. We were able to sort it out, however, and I believe that with most or all of the SMARTDesk people in attendance, we should be able to get through all of the staining in week or two… the meeting helped play a big role in meeting ISTE’s standard on critical thinking and problem solving this week.
There weren’t as many walk-ups this week, but there were a number of issues with Promethean boards and a few issues with using Airplay. Thankfully, the Promethean board issues were just caused by general use of the board and weren’t anything too concerning.
I’ve been hoping to bring back the after-school tech sessions that Michael used to host. Maybe I will bring it up at the next meeting, I would love to have them back again after the Desk project is all completed.

Week 7

At the SMART Desk meeting this week we talked about developing an app (and/or a website) that every club in the school can use to send out announcements and calendar updates / event schedules. I like this idea, but I think it’s important to remember the sheer number of clubs (200+) that we’re working with here. We would have to keep a lot of our information on a file/database server in-house, but I believe that would be manageable.
The most important thing, I think, would be concerning the layout. AD integration is a must, and I would imagine the layout to be close to a mix of TeamSnap (, Google Groups, and/or Facebook Groups. Ideally, I’m imagining each club having its own place to post announcements and, hopefully, have a small calendar (or a list of events). Someone mentioned using Apple’s iCal for scheduling events, but it would be best to avoid having to maintain 200 individual iCalendars for each club.

Week 6

Last week most of my time was spent on doing tech for the school’s fall play production of Tartuffe. Although it isn’t exactly SMART Desk, it turns out that the equipment commonly used in technical theater, especially some of the newer stuff, has a lot of connections to IT and computer science. For our new intercom system, for example, I looked up frequency ranges and generally made sense of the user manual so that I could learn to use the new equipment effectively. Learning about the new sound/intercom system in general fell under the 6th ISTE standard for technology operation and concepts this week.
Back at the SMART Desk, there have been less new tickets coming in lately, so I’ve been able to think about the online work system for the FAB lab and otherwise briefly look into some of the potential projects/ideas that I’ve been thinking about. I’m also planning to (hopefully!) meet with Mrs. Despines later this week to do that switch-over to Google Docs.

Week 5

Last week we had the usual assortment of issues with the laptop carts and a few problems with Promethean board connectivity (with pens specifically) that I’ve been reading into a little bit (some of the stuff you can find online is actually pretty informative- that would probably go under technology operations and concepts in ISTE).
At the meeting on Wednesday, however, we talked a little bit about possible uses for iBeacons and other Bluetooth devices, like those phone-locator-fobs. Someone mentioned using it to help keep track of the location of the school’s laptop carts, and I really like that idea. The laptop carts, especially the ones that move around or shared a lot, tend to get lost, and whenever I need to find one I usually find it somewhere other than it was supposed to have been. The reality is that the equipment on the cart itself is worth more than anybody would want to think about, so keeping track of that stuff is important.
The problem with the Bluetooth devices is that they really only serve as a waypoint, so unless you’re near a laptop cart there is no way to detect where they are. I feel like a more efficient alternative would be to have something on the laptop carts passively connect to the school’s WiFi arrays (which we already have everywhere). It would be enough for the cart to establish a connection and send a blip every 5 or 10 minutes or so. Because we know which WiFi array the device (laptop cart) is connecting to, we can find out what area of the building the cart is in. The only issue is with battery life, but, thanks in part to being reminded to do so constantly, most teachers keep their carts plugged into the outlet almost all of the time.

Week 4

This week I had to focus more on the German exchange because it was the last week my exchange partner Valentin was here in the U.S. :( However, on the SMART Desk side of things, we were able to identify a recurring issue with the laptops on the laptop carts that seems to be coming from the same 2 or 3 causes. By identifying the issue, I used the 4th ISTE standard for critical thinking, and hopefully I will be able to use it more next week in identifying the root of the laptop login issues.

Week 3

Last week I focused on several laptop cart issues that had come up during the week, especially with login server problems and problems with laptops connecting to the WiFi network. Because of the sheer number of laptop carts and laptops in the carts, it was important for me to communicate with the other people on the SMART Desk about where each of the laptops were and in what stage of repair they were in.
Other than that, I have been occupied with the German exchange (GAPP), as my partner, Valentin, is here in Pittsburgh, and we will be hosting him until October 10th.

Week 2

This week I’ve continued working on tickets in Help Desk. Help Desk has been a great way for us to communicate about technology issues at the high school, which directly satisfies ISTE’s 2nd standard on communication and collaboration. There have been a few walkups, but not as many as last week, so I think we should probably look into finishing the advertising projects for SMART Desk at the meeting next Wednesday. When those get done, there’s likely to be significantly more people asking for help.
I also learned more about the way our laptops connect and log into the district’s network and about how the Promethean boards are designed, which shows more progress toward ISTE’s 6th standard about technology operations and concept.
For next week’s meeting I will be finishing up the agenda. Most of the content is already there, but I will probably sending an email about it so that everyone can review the agenda if there is something they think should be added, moved, etc.