School Extra: Read all about it By Bob Zimmerman- September 19, 2018

I was talking with Tech Coordinator Randy Benoit and Tech Assistant Melissa Jensen to learn about technology at Maple Lake Schools and some terminology was used that needed clarification. Some fifty years ago, when I was in high school, a Chrome book would have had a chapter about 57 Chev bumpers and a hard drive would be from here to Des Moines. Back in the day, an I pad was an apartment for a single hippy, a server was the first person to hit the ball in a tennis game, the Web was reserved for spiders and the Cloud was where rain came from. One paragraph from the Technology Vision statement on the District’s web page shows how times have changed. “The Technology department supports five computer labs used for instruction in the most current business Microsoft Office and creative software packages encompassing Digital Photography, video production, Google Apps for Education, drafting and architectural design. A campus wide wireless network provides staff and student with immediate and continuous high speed internet access.” Mr. Benoit and Mrs. Jensen know the language of modern technology and much more. They interact with every department in both the high school and elementary school on a daily basis. There are about 400 desk top computers, 85 I pads and 75 Chrombooks that may need repairs or software updates. Seventy-two security cameras monitor entrances, exits and hallways. The phone system requires updates to reflect staff changes and the clocks need to be maintained. There are four servers for the school’s internal network and each has its own focus. One is for student information, another for finance and payroll, a third for the web and the last for applications. Every system is checked every day and rigorous preventive maintenance avoids problems. Almost all repairs are done in-house and maintaining an inventory and planning for hardware and software updates is a big part of their job. Equipment that has reached the end of its useful life is recycled and Mr. Benoit mentioned how much he appreciates the school’s relationship with the Wright County Recycling Center. Being available to answer questions and help staff with technology issues requires flexibility and keeps the job interesting. Mrs. Jensen told me “I love my job. It is never the same thing.” Getting technology devices into student’s hands is a primary goal and there are two computer labs in the grade school and three in the high school. The elementary school has a Chromebook and an I pad cart and the high school has a Chromebook and laptop cart. A teacher can sign out one of the carts for use when classroom projects require students to use the devices. First through fourth grade students tend to work better with the I Pads and older students prefer the Chrome Books. Mr. Benoit and Mrs. Jensen agreed they really enjoy seeing the “light bulb go on” when a student of any age masters something in the technology realm. Mrs. Jensen is working on the new and improved website for the District and hopes to have it on-line by the end of September. It will be hosted by a web hosting company and will have better mobile device capabilities than the current in-house version. Mrs. Jensen explained that mobile devices include smart phones, I pads and similar hardware and the new web site will provide larger text and easier navigation on the smaller screens. The District maintains control of all the web site content, so the change will not affect the information visitors to the site will be able to see. What I learned: There is a lot of behind-the-scenes technology needed to make schools function. What I need to learn: If I use the keyboard in my entryway to hang keys on, what should I do with a mother board?

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