NYC School District Lays a New Foundation for Mobile Devices

Switches, routers and wiring will help students get off to a good start this school year when they try out mobile devices.

by Michael Goot, The Post-Star, Glens Falls, N.Y. / August 11, 2015
A New York City school district is updating its infrastructure to prepare for a mobile device initiative. Shutterstock.com

(TNS) — Students in grades seven through 12 will have a Chromebook computer in their hands and a space in the school dedicated for creative projects when they come back this fall.

Workers are scurrying to finish laying the miles of cable that will support the wireless infrastructure. It is a massive undertaking, according to Paul Streicher, the Glens Falls City School District director of technology.

This is all part of a nearly $10 million capital project that voters approved in May 2012. Last summer, the work focused on removing asbestos and replacing roofs. This year, $5 million worth of technology infrastructure, including new wiring, routers and switchers that will make it easier to connect to the Internet, is being installed.

Work on this phase of the project started this past spring and is proceeding on time and on budget, according to Streicher. Most of the work in the high school, middle school and district office is done.

When completed, the district will have 350 wireless access points throughout the district, according to Streicher. The wireless access will be crucial for the Chromebooks, which don't have installed hardware but access the web to run their applications.

"There shouldn't be any instructional space that is not covered," he said.

The district even will have some hot spots outside, Streicher added, as there was a demand from physical education teachers and spectators at high school contests to be able to get on the Internet while on athletic fields.

About 950 Chromebooks will be deployed, according to Streicher. Students picked up the computers a couple of weeks ago and will be receiving a tutorial on how to use them. Half-day informational sessions are scheduled for Aug. 25-27 for students. Sign-ups are available on the district's website: Click on the Chromebook 1:1 web page.

The district has an insurance policy to cover lost, damaged or stolen devices, according to Streicher. The district has installed filters, so students won't be able to log onto any inappropriate sites.

The district spent about $300,000 on the Chromebooks and related costs such as insurance. The district receives 55 percent reimbursement on the computers through its BOCES aid.

The project has been a year in the planning. Streicher said it would take some time to adjust to the technology.

"It will be a wild ride for the first few months," he said.

Since the state's Smart Schools bond act was passed after this project was already in the pipeline, Streicher said the district could be able to use its allotment on supplemental purchases such as more smart boards and technology equipment.

Also as part of this project, the district is creating a maker space in the middle school media center. Students can work on creative and technological projects in the space. The district's weather station is in this location, using its image from a rooftop camera, according to technology teacher Steve Spory. The space will have Lego robotics and the district is looking into acquiring a 3D printer.

The space formerly housed a school psychologist's office that has been relocated. 

©2015 The Post Star (Glens Falls, N.Y.), distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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