Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The grind has hit hard

It has been a struggle to sit down to write with the start of a new year in a new role occupying my time.  I missed last weeks post about educational leadership and I missed this week's open topic post.  This three day weekend will give me a chance to adjust and get back in to a productive cycle.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Checking in on myself

I wrote just before Father's day about my almost two year journey to a healthy lifestyle.  Since that time I have traveled to Washington, D.C., had an epiphany with Twitter, and even admitted to my own technology hoarding.  Last week my district and school started back with students and I was disappointed to say that my pants fit just a bit tighter than they should that first day.

I stepped on the scale and was sad to see that I had put on 10 pounds.  I knew it was going to be up; I have enjoyed summer.   All the fresh fruit, picnics, parties, and BBQ did me in.  It certainly didn't help that I had a sore shoulder that kept me out of the gym.  However all of those excuses are just that; excuses.  I can blame all of those reasons for the weight gain, but it was just me not sticking to the plan.  Since going back to work I am at the gym daily and expect to get back on track quickly.  I still have my goal of losing 25 more pounds by the end of October.  Without a plan, a goal is just a dream.

Color Run

I had a great experience at the Sacramento Color Run that took place on August 3rd.  About 15,000 people participated. If you ever get a chance to do a Color Run, take advantage of it.  While running or walking a 5k route, you get sprayed with a cornstarch color powder every kilometer.  Here is what it looks like as you approach one of the color stations (this happens to be the pink one).

By the end of the race you and your clothing end up looking like this...I think orange was the color that seemed to like me.

Color Run Sacramento 2013

At the end of the race they have a big celebration that happens every 15 minutes.  Each racer gets a packet of colored powder to throw up in the air to celebrate the end of the race.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Wi-Fi for All, 5 Things to Consider

I recently read the post on Edudemic, "We Get Wi-Fi With Our Coffee, Why Not Our Schools?" and breathed a sigh of relief.  My district had finally taken the bold necessary step of providing district wide WiFi for students and staff to start this year.

We recently received a QZAB 'grant' that paid for quite a few technology pieces in our districts master technolgoy plan.  Included in that purchase was 910 chromebooks.  The backbone for this project, however, was district wide WiFi.  The Chromebooks required it and we needed to move into the 21st century. Here are 5 things to consider to consider with WiFi:

Get IT specialists involved early
We are lucky enough to consult and work with a local IT company.  They helped us make the connections with manufacturers who then sent engineers out to our sites to get a fully customized WiFi infrastructure. This partnership resulted in a comprehensive system that should cover our needs for at least 10+ years.

What do you want to be able to do?
Because we got IT specialists involved early, we were able to distill the essence of what we were trying to accomplish.  Knowing that we wanted Chromebooks, BYOD, and guest access provided the crucial elements in the decision making process.  I can't tell you how many times I wanted to scream when the question, "what do you want to be able to do?" was asked.  Without it, however, we would have ended up with something we couldn't use or overpay for something we would never use.

Plan for density as well as coverage
Coverage is not enough anymore.  We estimate that we will have 5 devices per person in our district within the next 5 years.  For a district our size, that resulted in almost 15,000 connections for employees and students.  This means we needed density.  Consumer based routers are going to 'melt' under a tenth of that kind of load.  We placed density access points (APs) in key locations where we knew use would be the heaviest.  Our system allows us the flexibility of swapping out APs as our need for density increases for years to come.

Businesses use enterprise level WiFi security.  Schools are businesses; our business is facilitating ensuring student learning. Schools need enterprise level WiFi security.  Don't skimp on security. Without properly secured WiFi, you run the risk of opening your entire network (including confidential information) to anyone who accesses it.

Sticker shock
Boy oh boy did we have sticker shock.  WiFi is not cheap.  Once we were able to apply appropriate education discounts and identify our maximum budget, the manufacturer worked with us to meet our needs. This is an investment in our infrastructure much like a desk, chair, or building is an investment in education. Have a dollar amount in mind and work within it for the best possible solution for you.

Photo credit
WiFi Logo - miniyo73, used under Creative Common Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic