Share This Page

Tech use higher than ever in Plum schools

| Wednesday, July 24, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

The increasing use of smartphones, tablets and other technology in the Plum School District has led to a need for network upgrades.

“We had a record use of technology in 2012-13,” said Christopher Davis, the district's director of educational technology.

The school board's decision a couple of years ago to permit students to bring their own computing devices to school has resulted in about a 25 percent increase in the “network load” or amount of traffic or data on the network, Davis earlier this month told Plum School Board members during a technology committee meeting.

Davis said in addition to the district's network supporting more than 2,000 computers and 500 mobile devices, the “Bring Your Own Device” policy has resulted in an additional 800 to 1,000 devices on the network each day.

Davis said the record use of the network has resulted in the technology department this summer making upgrades to the district's information technology infrastructure.

“The existing (information technology) backbone is about 10 years old and now is insufficient to handle the network and Internet needs of the district,” Davis said.

Other work includes adding classroom technology to assist students and teachers in their daily lessons and upgrading Internet service to the district.

Davis also is working on a recommendation to the board concerning the consolidation of all five student data systems that have information on grades, student health, management of special-education students and discipline management into one centralized system.

“This separation of information and functionality (of the five systems) provides massive challenges for state reporting (of student information) and reliability of data between systems,” Davis said.

After an evaluation of several systems, a district committee is considering Sapphire Software based in North Brunswick, N.J., at a cost of $65,000, Davis said.

The current systems cost $29,000, Davis said.

Sapphire would provide greater integration and access to student information, a more user-friendly parent portal and better access to federal and state reporting data, he said.

Board President Andrew Drake said switching to a new system would be a “cultural change” for the district's staff.

Davis said the company would make the conversion for the Plum School District.

Also, Davis would plan training for the staff beginning in January through the end of the school year.

He anticipates the system would be in place for the 2014-15 school year.

Davis expects to have a recommendation for the board on a new system within a few months.

Drake also wants the technology department's long-term goals as part of the district's strategic plan.

“We need to know what you will do (in technology) in five years,” Drake said.

Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400 ext. 8753 or kzapf@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.