Q: Several questions pertaining to netbooks. Will we be able to show DVD’s (is there a drive)? Can teachers use their own laptops and connect to the network? Can we install programs like “Test Wizard” software on them?
A: One feature of the netbooks is their small size. As a result they do not have a DVD drive, but an external USB drive can be connected. If this is a need, it can be addressed by individual departments or as a school supply. Please know that the district spends more than $20,000 to subscribe to United Streaming and its wealth of educational resources. As we move forward, perhaps there are videos and activities available there that can replace DVD’s (and also be available to students anytime/anywhere, unlike a DVD). Professional development opportunities for United Streaming will be available in My Learning Plan.
With regard to connecting personal laptops to the network, the answer is yes (see below), Lastly, because the netbooks are property of the district and connect to our networks, software will need to be requested in School Dude and installed by district technicians.
Q: This is great news. Finally a new smartboard and now an open network? Does that mean my dream of using a tablet (with a desktop control app or something like gotomypc) as a way to draw on the smartboard from anywhere in the room can be a reality?
A: The open network is quite straightforward. Students and teachers will be able to connect to the Internet via the district’s Internet connection. The connection will have the same filtering system as our district network and its use is monitored as well. Those who use it are bound by the district’s acceptable use policy, and use should be for forwarding our district goals. Please note, however, that these devices will not be able to access district network resources (i.e. printers, H: drives), only the Internet. Specifics will follow when these resources become available.
Q: Since our district has now moved to Office 2010, it has become impossible for many of us to open email attachments at home if we do not have 2010. Are there plans to offer district employees the opportunity to purchase 2010 from the district. I heard that was being explored and the cost would be minimal compared to buying it.
A: We had explored that possibility last year, and it seems feasible. Richard Hernandez will follow up directly with Microsoft’s licensing department and if this is available as a pass through to staff, we will work with the business department to make it a reality. In the meantime, a viable solution is to download and install Open Office (http://download.openoffice.org/index.html). It’s free and supported by the open source community. In fact, it opens more MS Word formats the Microsoft Word does!.
Another solution is to upload any Office document (or other file type) to Google Apps (login, go to docs, choose upload file). It will automatically convert the document, and it can be exported in a variety of formats, including PDF, OpenOffice, MS Word and others. If you already have a version of Microsoft Office on your computer, consider downloading the compatibility pack. This will let you open newer versions of Office documents, such as Microsoft Office 2010.
Q: If we were to do work in the classroom and wanted to continue it at home is it still possible to save it under a version that is not 2010, let’s say 2003 for the transfer home via email?
A: Yes, you can use the “save as” feature and save it as a previous version of Word. You can also download the Microsoft Compatibility Pack which allows you to open documents created in newer versions of MS Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Lastly, rather than transferring documents from school to home and back again (potential problems with version controls), you may want to consider taking advantage of the district’s Google Apps software. By using this tool, the documents you create will be available to you anytime/anywhere, and you’ll always have it backed up and access to the most recent version. It also allows you to collaborate with up to fifty other users at one time (should the need arise). There are many professional development opportunities offered in My Learning Plan that you can take advantage of.