School Tech Audits

I have started researching the various types of technology audits that have been done by schools in our state and elsewhere. Today I came across this nicely articulated journal article – K-12 technology audit: Lessons for school leaders | IEJLL University of Calgary

I have also been taking a closer look at SchoolDude’s IT modules (our district already has their inventory module, ITAM Direct) and comparing it to the open source SpiceWorks software (which has a as an alternative inventory solution). It appears to me that we might be able to accomplish a great deal of data collection and analysis about our infrastructure if we were to more fully and consistently implement one of these.

My goal this week is to articulate how this might all fit together with (a) the new requirement to submit data for the “Technology Readiness Tool” and (b) our district’s need to conduct a full audit of our current network, equipment, bandwidth, and staffing levels. This will allow us to much more clearly say what we need in terms of technology acquisitions and implementation if we want to succeed in our vision of creating high quality 21st century learning environments. Here is a recent note on the Assess4Ed.net website about the question of bandwidth capacity for online testing:

The June 2011 report ( http://www.setda.org/c/document_library/get_file?folderId=344&name=DLFE-1336.pdf [1]) recommends that devices be wired, but does not require it. Again, it is overall bandwidth going into the building and the amount of bandwidth available to each device within the building that should be the concern, not the type of connectivity.  A school with with a 1GBPS WAN connection and a robust 802.11n wireless network working on 1GBPS internal LAN with excellent coverage would be better served with  100 wireless devices simultaneously taking an assessment than would be a school with a T1 WAN and 25 wired devices operating with old 10/100 ethernet switches.  Arbitrarily specifying wired or wireless would be a disservice to those schools that have made significant upgrades to their wireless network infrastracture.  I know that in my own building there are low quality wired drops that operate at only 10 MBPS where a roomful of laptops can connect at 100 plus MBPS to a single wireless AP to access a bandwidth intensive math simulation (Carnegie Cognitive Tutor).

This Tech Readiness Tool is just one aspect of a larger need we (and all schools) have to have a clear and comprehensive picture of what it will take to get where we need to be. Along these lines, the Digital Textbook Playbook, mentioned in this article, and hosted on this FCC page is another resource that is likely to be incredibly helpful.

Lastly, we will need some really good visuals for this work. Thanks to my Twitter feeds, I picked up a nice blog post on 7 different data visualization tools. One that I think might be helpful for our tech audit process is ManyEyes, a free tool created by a team at IBM Research. Of course, there’s always the standard data graphing tools built into Excel and Google Spreadsheets.

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