Staying Connected

McCallie's Information Systems Director Robert Wilson and his staff ensure that the school’s students and faculty are ahead of the curve with technology.

 

Robert Wilson_p4McCallie School has a long history of computing. In the 1970s, McCallie was one of the first schools to have an electronic student scheduling system. Among its other school technology firsts were an online student information system, paperless communication and the implementation of a ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) program. Today, McCallie continues to apply technology for academic and administrative use throughout. The Information Technology Department supports these uses by providing a reliable network, telephone, computing and application infrastructure. Historically, many applications were developed in-house. Today, the Internet and Cloud-based applications, like Google Apps for Education, provide many of the services used at the school. Although some are not locally hosted, they are managed by McCallie. In many cases, the IT department is hands-on with this management. Increasingly however, some applications are moving towards departmental or functional level management; for example, the academic use of our learning management system. The IT department manages the backend, while faculty manages its daily academic use. McCallie has been a BYOD school long before it became a buzzword. The school’s network infrastructure is updated regularly to handle the increased number of connected devices. The network connects and provides hardware and software support for more than 1,300 personal devices, ranging from desktops to tablets to smartphones, and more than 500 school-owned devices. The IT department monitors hardware and software trends. Devices or software are evaluated, and when it makes sense, are integrated into the technology infrastructure. But the department doesn’t do this alone. The Technology Evaluation Committee (TEC) is a group of faculty who monitor academic technology and trends, tests and recommend technology tools for academic areas. Predicting technology futures is challenging. One area we think will continue to expand is the use of technology to enhance collaboration. With more powerful devices and increased storage, the ability to collaborate and archive material will have a dramatic effect on education. This would allow teachers to hold virtual classes over the Internet, which could prove useful on snow days or if office hours outside the normal schedule are needed. The IT department works hand-in-hand with the TEC to test and evaluate new technologies and how they might benefit McCallie’s academic program. One of the constant challenges is optimizing bandwidth to support video conferencing, video streaming and the increasing number of devices. Prioritizing these services for academic and institutional needs changes as new technology develops. Part of this includes enhancing wireless coverage to support more mobile devices and newer network standards. Several generations of computers have come and gone at McCallie, and each generation has a shorter lifespan. It is important that our students have the foundation and understanding that technology is not static and that they have the skills to adapt and use the technology tools of tomorrow.

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