Information Systems

Tech Talk

  • Wrapping Up: Last Tech Talk for 15-16 School Year

    Posted June 2, 2016

    I’m not sure how to sum up a year like this. “Nantucket sleigh ride” probably comes closest. With no whales in the Great Lakes, this term may be unfamiliar to some of you. If so, visit here.

    It was a wild ride indeed, going back to all the moves last summer (including ours), the opening of Gordon Parks Arts Hall, welcoming many new faculty and staff, the endless meetings with contractors and construction team members, developing new policies and practices around our expanded Historic Campus, hiring a building manger for Parks, managing dozens of events, completing 2,004 support tickets, and all with an eye toward the work ahead this summer. The workload has been fierce, as it has been for so many others during this time of profound change, and I would be lying if I said we’d experienced no wear and tear. However, we are all still here (even if Allen is leaving soon), and still looking forward to the challenges ahead - and there are many.

    On behalf of the whole IS team, let me say thanks to all of you for your support, encouragement, cooperation and patience as we set some new records for doing things we’ve never done before. Special thanks to Tony Wilson, Joe Wachowski, Scott Griffin and the rest of the operations team for stepping up every day (and night too many times), as well as the Finance and Operations team: Christopher Jones, Kellyn Gawel, Brian Lipinski, Paul Gunty, Martha Baggetto, Ned Reece, Brent LaRowe, and Paul Gunty. Without these folks, IS would not be able to do what we need to do.

    Just a note that IS will no longer be in the former band room after next weekend. We’ll be moving to N110 in Gordon Parks Hall starting the afternoon of June 10 and through the rest of that weekend. We will be moved in and ready to work from that space on Monday, June 13.

    Best wishes to all for a joyful summer.

    —Curt Lieneck

  • Computing and A/V Capital Expenditure Updates

    Posted June 2, 2016
    Due to unexpected pressure on the capital budget for next year, it will take me longer than I had hoped to finalize decisions on computing and a/v requests. That is not to say that no decisions have been made. Some items have been approved, and others declined, but the majority of requests are still pending.

    All requestors will hear from me before the end of school indicating one of those three status options: approved, declined, or pending. As I see the process through to the end, I will notify requestors as pending requests are resolved. I regret the delay in processing requests, but in this instance it’s simply unavoidable. Thank you for your patience. —Curt
  • Typical Year End Reminders

    Posted June 2, 2016
    Summer is the most active time for equipment thefts on campus. You can help prevent them.

    Please take a moment to think through how you will secure technology assets assigned to you once you depart for the summer. Cameras, iPods, iPads, headphones, and other highly portable gear should be stored under lock and key. Log out of user accounts on computers in your office or classroom. Turn off audiovisual systems. Take time to back up important files to the file server. If you are among those moving to different spaces over the summer, be sure IS gets your highly portable devices for safe storage; larger items like desktop computers and printers will be taken care of as part of the moving process. Of course, IS is happy to store items for you. Just bring items to our office and we'll label and store them in alarmed spaces.

    Summer travelers will be wise to take appropriate security precautions with school-owned laptops. NEVER place your laptop in checked baggage and never leave your laptop in a hot car. Don't conduct sensitive personal transactions on public wi-fi networks, and be mindful of your surroundings. It only takes a split second for your laptop to disappear. If you are leaving your laptop at home while you travel, find a safe, out-of-the-way place to conceal it under lock and key; historically, the highest number of school laptop thefts have occurred during home break-ins.
  • Technology...It’s for the Birds

    Posted May 20, 2016
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    When working with teachers to integrate technology in meaningful ways, I always start by asking what the learning goals and expectations are before considering and recommending any kind of technology. Thinking about how technology has been used over the last couple of weeks here at ESH has had me thinking about different types of technology. Low-tech can be referred to as traditional, “unplugged” or non-digital tools – think arts and crafts materials such as pencils, crayons, etc. High-tech can be referred to as mechanical, computerized, digital tools – think iPads, computers, etc. – though one could describe a document camera, for example, as a low, high-tech tool. If low-tech and high-tech are on opposite ends of a continuum, convergence falls somewhere in between, and is a combination of the two. Describing technology in terms of low and high doesn’t imply good or bad, it’s just a way to identify it as non-digital, digital, or both. What’s more important is trying to identify ways in which technology can be used meaningfully, to facilitate learning and teaching.

    For the full article and to see why Louis thinks technology is for the birds, visit his blog at — Louis Coronel

  • IS Personnel Changes: Good News/Bad News

    Posted May 20, 2016

    Ok, first the good news: we’ve hired Justin Clark to fill the help desk spot created by Gerardo Galvan’s transition to the Parks Hall building manager. Justin comes to us with deep tech support experience, having been the sole help desk resource for The Onion and also worked at Apple’s Genius Bar here in Chicago. He has a degree from Columbia College in Audio Arts and Acoustics and will be starting with us shortly. He will start working on June 1.

    The bad news is that Data Systems Analyst Allen Golbig and his family will be moving to Cleveland at the end of July as his spouse has accepted a new position there. Allen manages PowerSchool and the Follett online catalog system while working closely with JK and Rob on server and Casper-related issues. Though Allen has not been with us very long, he has certainly made a significant contribution to our efforts. Please join us in wishing him and his family all the best in this next chapter of their lives. — Curt

DIT Bits Blog

  • Foresight Rules, Hindsight Drools

    03/28/2016 3:18 PM

    Many IT leaders have experienced the fallout that happens when their schools decide to make changes without adequately considering how those changes will affect the computing environment. 

    The beginning of spring quarter is a good time for IT leaders to be on the lookout for imminent problems other administrators may not have seen as changes for the next academic year grow closer to being etched in stone.

    A typical example is when schools, particularly multi-divisional schools, want to overhaul schedules. Often, schedule changes will alter those temporal "match points" where the schedule for one division lines up with another. Changing the length and/or frequency of instructional periods can throw these match points out of alignment, thus creating a new level of contention for computing resources -- unless, of course, proactive measures are taken to prevent it.

    Another example is when students, counselors, and department chairs are all working on scheduling students for the next academic year. Original course requests made in winter quarter are fluid in many schools, with changes taking place even right up to (and even beyond) the first weeks of school. If there are courses that require specific computing hardware, enrollment numbers in those classes must acknowledge those limitations, or, again, proactively plan to address them if enrollment is to be increased.

    As an IT leader, one cannot afford to stand on the sidelines and wait for the inevitable "aha!" moment when others realize in hindsight they've created a problem and come to you to solve it at the last minute. Even a well-resourced IT budget cannot take a large, unplanned hit because there wasn't appropriate foresight; technology has been in schools for a long time and should be part of any administrative change management strategy, regardless of the kind of change being planned. It may be up to you as an IT leader to make sure that happens until such time as others' foresight grows. Ideally, you will be invited to share input on these kinds of changes early on in the planning process. 

    If you haven't already done so, take a moment now to take a look at things at your school. If you see any upcoming changes that may affect your budget for the next fiscal year, you'd be wise to investigate them now, and thoroughly so. Otherwise you may be in for one of those surprises no one wants.