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.