Information Systems

Tech Talk

  • Excellent Conference

    Posted April 22, 2016

    Rob and I were in Atlanta this week to attend the ATLIS conference (ATLIS is a new organization serving the needs of independent school technology directors). We enjoyed several presentations and workshops and came back with some new ideas and tools to explore; it was also good to leave feeling affirmed in areas where what we do at Lab was nicely aligned with best practices. I participated in leading two workshops and did a solo presentation on what IT leaders could expect during building projects ( I was feeling pretty knowledgeable in that area).

    Maker culture and maker spaces were by far the hottest topic, with many schools sharing their efforts in this area. As always, professional development was also high on the list. There were also a few purely geeky sessions. As at most conferences, there were a couple of duds in the mix, too, but by and large the quality of presentations was significantly higher than at other conferences. We also took advantage of the many networking opportunities and came home with excellent new contacts and “tech pals” with whom we can share ideas, questions, problems, and solutions. The smaller size of the conference and the relatively homogeneous audience made it easy to develop a special rapport that should last well beyond the conference. — Curt

  • Open Position in IS

    Posted April 22, 2016

    Please be aware that we’ve posted a job opening for a full time Technical Support Specialist to work on the Help Desk. This is a full time entry level position that reports to Rob Koontz and will join Monika and Brooks in performing tech support tasks. See the UC jobs website for further details; if you share news of this opening with someone, please be sure to tell them to read the job description carefully. Thanks.

  • For Skype Users: A Polite Request

    Posted April 22, 2016

    Skype was first released in 2003. Since then, it has become a go-to application for easy videoconferencing with millions of users worldwide. IS is often asked to support Skype videoconference calls, even though the application itself is straightforward, stable, and well supported with tutorials on the company’s web site.

    If you use Skype frequently for hiring, instruction, or other purposes, we respectfully request that you take time to get comfortable enough with the application (and the room setups in places you normally use it) so that you can manage these calls independently. We’re always happy to help when you’re getting started with an application, but after numerous repeat requests for assistance, we start to wonder if we are actually helping.

    We’re ready to do what’s needed to help get you feeling confident. Just send us a ticket and we’ll be there, but we’re assuming you’ve reviewed available tutorials and are working toward the goal of flying solo eventually. Thanks for your cooperation.

  • Some Really Good iPhone Tips

    Posted April 22, 2016

    Want to only see unread mail on your iPhone? Do you know how to turn off the iPhone flashlight with one swipe? This article shares these and 23 other “hidden tips and tricks” for using your iPhone. Thanks to Rob Koontz for passing this on.

  • Prodigious Culmination: Avoid Surprises

    Posted April 22, 2016

    This time of year finds people planning and conducting many large scale end-of-year projects and activities, some of which require assistance from IS team members. Though we know you can’t foresee some of the glitches and road bumps you’ll encounter, it does help smooth out the path a bit if you can give us as much lead time as possible and help us understand what you’re trying to do so we can give you the best available help.

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.