Apr 26, 2007

There seems to be a bit of confusion about the benefits of server virtualization, with many tending to focus on cost savings. As a district that has been running a virtual infrastructure for some time, I can honestly say that virtualization is not so much about saving money (although you certainly will) as it is about better resource utilization, more reliability, and greater flexibility.

Better resource utilization

There is no question that most of our servers are doing nothing about 90% of the time. This becomes quite obvious with even a cursory glance at historical utilization data for any given server. It would seem that the obvious solution for this would be to simply run more applications on each one, but the reality of this is that the more apps you install on one OS, the more unreliable it becomes (especially if it's a Microsoft product.) So, what we all do instead is buy a new machine every time we want a new app that we think is "critical," because we want to be sure it has its own sandbox to play in. Don't even tell me you are running anything but Exchange on your Exchange servers!

Apr 12, 2007
There seems to be a renewed interest in interactive whiteboards of late, with the debate largely centering around the notion of "value." Proponents often bring forth such lofty, yet immeasurable "proof" as a teacher or administrator declaration of how wonderful they are, how their classroom lessons are more engaging, effective, interactive, etc., etc. Or, better yet, they bring in a second grader and a board, and let him/her demonstrate it - leveraging what I would call the "cute factor" - in an effort to sell the technology to the school board and/or stakeholders. And in a particularly sad state of affairs, many view technology (and not just this technology) as more of a trophy than a tool - an opportunity to say, "look how advanced we are. We have interactive whiteboards in every classroom." A simple review of any recent ed tech conference will reveal plenty of evidence of this phenomenon - but I digress...
Apr 3, 2007
There has been much discussion of late about the potential of social networking in the K-12 environment. These tools, which include blogging, podcasting, file sharing, and RSS, as well as the "social" structure of friendships, communities, and peers, have been said to have the potential to transform both teaching and learning, and rightly so. They enable creativity through easy to use tools, and encourage collaboration and sharing.

Our district has realized some amazing, quantifiable benefits, from improved science scores as a direct result of teacher review podcasts and group science projects to improvements in reading, writing, and language fluency, not to mention increased confidence and student engagement. We have communities of teachers developing and testing content, sharing ideas, discussing technologies, and communicating with their respective communities. We have students doing research outside of the base curriculum, both in groups and individually, to develop informational podcasts. Second graders are collaborating on creative writing and podcasting projects, while fourth graders post class reviews. In short, the concept of community is alive and well at Saugus.