A session given by Ray Ernisse, the CIO of Francis Howell School District, covered technologies not to ignore. A surprising number of the attendees seemed surprised by some of the content he began covering. Keep in mind the majority of people attending are financial based positions, superintendents and more from school districts. Not Information Technology staff.
- Virtualization – one of the biggest cost savers a school can do. Only a handful had heard of it, one a couple had implemented or thought of it. The lower TCO was a major focus on hardware cost savings, warranty, energy consumption and disaster recovery. He gave examples of 20 servers virtualized into 3 saving $24k of maintenance alone. One new desktop can provide 4 virtual ones for students. Server install time cut down over 75%.
- Cloud Computing – an extension of your environment, some free. All are easier to budget with less capital needed. The benefit is on-demand, available anywhere with less internal sophistication. Cost savings in his district for year one was $158,760. Almost ~500m over 6 years. This doesn’t take into account energy and backup savings.
- Collaboration and Communication – the social media aspect. There was an alternate social media session given before this one that went in depth. Using the networking promotes 21st Century skills. Reduces travel costs and expands reach.
- Green Computing – more of a strategy than a technology. Reduces obsolete devices and allows more technology for re-purpose. Paper savings and more by using cloud , virtualization and collaboration. Printing is a key place to start. Store more electronically. Set computers to power off at night. Deploy LCD over CRT monitors.
- Personally Owned Devices – only two hands raised when asked if their district would allow people to bring their own in. Doing this could reduce E-rate funding, while needing less technology refreshment dollars needed. It opens anywhere anytime learning and more students hands-on with technology.
- eBooks – (this is my favorite) This is huge in cost savings for schools. This is more about getting students involved in reading the material. Students reduce the backpack and the text is now searchable and linkable. This fits new learning styles of kids. But ow do you charge, manage and maintain the devices. What is the lifespan? Longer than the book?
- Mobile Computing (iPads, smartphones) – New handheld “clickers” allow instant feedback from students. Some have Internet access and is more cost effective than laptops. There is security concerns and policy needs. More network coverage may be needed. The network becomes the key here. If the network is down the learning stops.
- DGBL: Digital game based learning – basically edugaming in classes. It is available online and promotes problem solving skills. The student gets immediate feedback and multiple ways to learn with advanced complexity as you complete tasks. Most of these are all licensed based, so possible increase in costs.
- Augmented Reality – very new but an interactive way to keep students engaged. It opens trial and error learning and situational experience, but it too new and raw. There would be bandwidth demand increases and classroom design changes.
- Flexible Displays – paper thin displays. Portable. On demand visibility. Outdoor learning.
The time showed the first 4 coming in this school year with the rest split in pairs across the next 5 years. Basically all of these can be in place now, funds are the main issue. You then enter implementation costs and time and training to the teachers. The students would likely absorb it almost instantly.