Category Archives: Tech Director

New Building Tech

The new building includes up to 4 offices, a meeting room that can be divided, concession area, washrooms, a stage, a gym, and storage.

Just prior to the drywall installation, the IT Department has been finalizing all low voltage connections… making a few updates here and there.  It’s our goal to make the new building as high tech as we reasonably can.

We have included:

  • Data drops for all office and meeting room space
  • Power accommodations for meeting room projectors and screens.
  • IDF location connects to current building infrastructure via underground pipe
  • Data lines around the gym for future audio installation
  • Accommodations for future key fob access to doors
  • Accommodation for future projection in the gym/stage space
  • Separate electrical breakers for the IDF and proposed copier locations
  • 3 locations for digital signage in the hallway, 1-2 extra locations for possible signage/presentations in meeting areas

In process are the final locations of the security cameras, door entry, and av for the meeting rooms.  The low voltage cabling for phone and internet starts as soon as January 30.

It’s our objective to try and account for all the possibilities we can reasonably predict and install the infrastructure necessary to accommodate for the building’s opening.  In some cases, we may add features at a later time but the conduit and piping will be there making future projects much cheaper to install and deploy.

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OpenDNS – Filter All Devices At Home

Tech geeks do not need an introduction for DNS.  For the rest of the blog’s audience, DNS is what translates web addresses to their actual IP addresses.  For example, when you type in into your web browser, you may not know it resolves to  Any why would you? is much easier to remember!

I receive questions about filtering at home quite often.  While our Chromebooks use Securly as a remote filtering option, what about other devices in the house?

By using OpenDNS Nameservers with Family Shield, you can quickly establish filtering for all home devices.  It’s best and most efficient if you configure on your router, but you can configure per device, too.  Use the following DNS entries:


Family Shield provides quick DNS resolution, fraud and phishing protection, and parental controls.  The base version is free while the VIP Home is only $19.95 for the year.  You can find a community forum and information on how to set up your device(s) or router.

More info at



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1963 Technology

1963What it was like then…

You had to be a scientist or engineer to see a computer in 1963. The smallest computer at the time was the DEC PDP-1 (1959) and it cost $3,000,000 dollars (that’s about $19,000,000 adjusted for inflation)! Just the CPU was the size of about 3 refrigerators!  Your cell phone has more computing power than it! Most schools didn’t have computers in their classrooms until 1977-1985 when the first home computers were coming out. If you were in college between 1965-1975, you might have seen a mainframe computer (Like an IBM S/360).


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Gearing up for 2013-2014

With the re-construction of the 1-5 wing, technology upgrades are also taking place in each classroom. Our “classroom technology renovation project” will be complete for all 18 classrooms, K-8, for the 13-14 school year. Chalk boards were removed in favor of interactive Smart Boards, ultra short-throw projectors were installed to minimize shadowing, and classroom speakers were added. The project also included upgraded electrical work, network jack installation, along with painting and patching walls. Internet sites and streaming video are easy show, lessons come to life in an interactive format, and students are better engaged in their learning.

St. Cletus is also the first elementary school in Archdiocese of Chicago to formally accept the “bring your own device” (BYOD) concept. When appropriate and when allowed by their teacher, students can bring their own device to school to use in the classroom. This is a unique program as it allows the student to use the device of their choice. It also helps them understand that each technology device they have access to can be used as a learning tool. To accommodate the growing program, additional wireless access points have been deployed.

The school-owned technology devices also received upgrades. All computers in our Technology Learning Center received memory upgrades, laptop harddrives were replaced with faster solid state drives, the operating system on all desktops and laptops was upgraded, and the apps on our iPads were updated. The school’s file server was also upgraded to better accommodate the growth of our programs.

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BYOD – Archdiocese Tech Conference 2012

Did you know as many as 87% of teens bring their cell phone to school at least a few times a week (whether the school allows them in class or not)?

  • 75% of teens own a cell phone.
  • One in three teens sends 100 text messages a day.
  • Boys average 30 texts a day… girls… 80

Since 87% of your students in middle school and high school are likely bringing their cell phone to school each day, imagine the possibilities if you allowed them to use this devices (and its computing power) to record a podcast, put together the next video to go viral, or access the worldwide web.  Are you using recording devices, video cameras, and the internet today?  How many more students could access these resources if you allowed them to use their phone?

More Teen Phone Facts

  • 83% use their phones to take pictures.
  • 64% share pictures with others.
  • 60% play music on their phones.
  • 46% play games on their phones.
  • 32% exchange videos on their phones.
  • 31% exchange instant messages on their phones.
  • 27% go online for general purposes on their phones.
  • 23% access social network sites on their phones.
  • 21% use email on their phones.
  • 11% purchase things via their phones

What about other devices?  Do your students own an iPod touch?  Kindle Fire?  Tablet (Galaxy, iPad, etc.)?  Laptop?  Netbook?

So why is your school buying as many cameras, laptops, and tablets if students already own these and get excited about using their device?

My BYOD presentation explores some of this.  If you missed it, I have a link below to my PowerPoint.

BYOD Presentation

Also, as a reference, our School’s Handbook with BYOD in mind (technology use starts on page 35)

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Tomorrow’s Technology for Today

As technology changes at a rapid pace, our parish and school is expected to to readily adapt to that change.

We have to be thoughtful of our approach with emerging technologies. We want to choose solutions that will provide us the best return on investment and last more than a few years. Our parish technology committee’s 3-year plan helps create a vision for the tools we purchase, implement, and use.

Here is an outline of just some of the ways the parish is improving technology for the benefit of all… from preschool students to all those in ministry.

Managed Wireless – Last summer (2011), our wireless connectivity was upgraded to a centrally managed system. This allows for seamless movement from one end of the education building to another. It also allows our IT Department to provision different users and provide guest access. This last summer (2012), we ran additional network cable in the education building to add even more access points for greater density. These improvements are vital to support the growth of wifi devices such as cell phones, tablets, media players, and laptops.

Microsoft Upgrade – Our Technology Director restructured the agreement with Microsoft and has upgraded parish and school computers to the latest Microsoft Office Suite. This new agreement will also allow the parish to upgrade to the latest operating systems and newer versions of Office that are released.

Smart Boards in More Classrooms – The maintenance and IT departments installed 4 new Smart Boards. Now, every classroom K-5 has an interactive whiteboard, mounted projector, and classroom speakers. The school intends to complete its goal of Smart Boards in every classroom next summer with the completion of the middle school level (where three already exist). The newly mounted projectors replace classroom TVs allowing for an enlarged and enhanced view of content shared by teachers from computers and other devices.

Improved AV in Classrooms and Room 102 – The projectors and speakers added in the school classrooms allow any of these rooms to be used for meetings and presentations. Several of our school classrooms are used for parish events and this represents an enhancement for all to realize. We also added a 40″ high definition TV to room 102 for meetings and presentations. The room has a dedicated DVD/VCR player and connection panel for connecting laptops, tablets, and other devices.

Bandwidth Improvements – The rate of bandwidth consumed is increasing at a significant rate as we bring more devices on to our parish network. The core network switch for all network traffic was replaced. Fiber optics cable was run from our server room to far areas of the building to reduce the strain on older copper lines. As mentioned in our wireless section, we added more access points which allows for better load balancing from one access point to another.

YouTube Enabled – Previously, YouTube was blocked by our web filter and only adults could bypass and access content. With an additional network configuration, YouTube is now available to students, but only displays education content. Students have access to video from PBS, Stanford, TED, and the Smithsonian, to name a few areas. Teachers can safely direct students to YouTube as an additional resource.

Rebranded Tools – With the help of our parish technology committee and marketing team, the school’s student information system, TeacherEase, was customized with the branding used in marketing brochures and website. Our Wednesday school communication tool, the School Scoop, was also given a face lift to similarly match this branding.

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Looking Ahead

As the 2011-2012 school year wraps up, the IT Department is already gearing up for summer projects which will benefit students, faculty, and staff for next school year.

Here’s a brief synopsis of what improvements and additions we will be making over the summer and in to next school year:

– classroom set of ipads

– upgrade to Office 2010

– 4 new Smart Boards (room 98, 107, 112, 115)

– classroom technology renovation (projectors and speakers installed in 5 classrooms)

– various network infrastructure improvements including fiber optic data runs, replacement of core network switch, addition of 4 wireless access points, assign a new subnet mask to all network devices to allow for more devices

We are also considering adding additional video cameras at several entrances/exits to continue to enhance our school security.

It looks to be another busy summer of improvements.  We’re excited to continue to improve our school technology program and initiatives!

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School Photo Montage

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School Pilots “YouTube for Schools”

YouTube is often a dirty word for schools.  While there is a ton of great content relevant to education, there’s also enough content that makes educators and administrators cringe.

Enter “YouTube for Schools.”

By adding a setting on our web filter, we can take advantage of education partners like the Smithsonian, TED, Steve Spangler Science, and others without all the cute kittens, music videos, etc.

We’ll be piloting this use of YouTube in the next week or so to evaluate.  So, in theory, your son or daughter may come home saying they were on YouTube today.  Know that if this is the case, they are going through the YouTube for Schools rather than the unfiltered YouTube you might know at home.

You can learn more about YouTube for School at


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Cletus Doodles

SC students used their creativity and photo editing skills to manipulate the Cletus logo, similar to the Google Doodle concept.

Check out their submissions!

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