Device Management at St. Theresa School

MEMO TO: ALL STAFF OF ST. THERESA SCHOOL

FROM: Ken Westgate, Tech Coach

DATE: 07/28/19

SUBJECT: CARE AND OPERATION OF MOBILE DEVICES AND OTHER ELECTRONIC DEVICES IN THE SCHOOL

Fellow staff members, I am providing this information to you in order to reduce the damage and equipment loss to our inventory of mobile computing devices and other digital devices in the school. The information below is not a complete list of all digital devices available in the school but covers the essential tools that you will be using throughout the school year. A few caveats before I begin:

  1. Please understand that the majority of you have very little information about the school’s technology and how it works and therefore you have been at a disadvantage in using the technology appropriately over the years. This is especially true when it comes to our wired network and server infrastructure that supports all of the other technology we use in the school. I will be rectifying your lack of information this year in my role as Tech Coach.
  2. You also have had very little information on the scope of the technology in the school and I am also in the process or remedying that with several documents I have prepared along with this one and the hands-on training I will be doing with you this year.
  3. It is imperative that you speak with me before deciding whether a piece of technology should remain in our classroom or not, and also before you change the room layout. The layout issue has to do with several issues regarding technology use in the school. The first is the fixed location of where wired computing equipment and related network equipment needs to be placed in order to operate in your room. The infrastructure for all of that was determined years ago and is in a fixed location that can not be changed without a dramatic and very expensive overhaul to our network infrastructure. The second is that the wireless access points have also been strategically placed to try to provide the most appropriate coverage for each floor, however because our building consists of large areas of concrete and steel wireless signals degrade quickly when trying to go through our structure. Moving certain wireless devices away from the Access Point locations ends up with a very poor or non-existent signal, so changing a room layout may not be in your best interest or you may have to work with the wireless devices in your classroom in a specific location where you will be closer to the Access Points. Along with this is the fact that our wireless network bandwidth is being stressed by the number of wireless devices we use in the school. Wireless networks like all networks provide a specific amount of starting bandwidth and as use increases that bandwidth decreases. While our wired network supports bandwidth of 100 megabits per second, all wireless networks are set at a maximum of 33 megabits per second at this time. As technology moves forward three things will impact this as far as the school is concerned.
    1. First we are hoping to move our wired network speed up to 250 to 330 megabits per second. Coaxial cable, which we use is actually capable or speeds up to 660 megabits per second, but no provider in the Lehigh Valley is offering those speeds. The current maximums for business service is either at 250 or 330 megabits per second. If Fiber Services through Verizon become available in our area we will try to obtain Fiber Service at the 1 Gigabit level.
    2. A new WiFi protocol is being developed that will at least double the speed of WiFi to 66 megabits per second. Whether it becomes available and whether we can use it on our Access Points during the 2019-2020 school year remains to be seen. In the meantime, if funding is available, we may look into adding signal boosters to our current access to help make the signals more powerful throughout the school
    3. The implementation of the 5G (Five Gigabit) wireless protocol for mobile phones and phone enable tablets will push network speeds up to five billion bits per second as opposed to the maximum 1 Gigabit level currently offered by Verizon FIOS service on their Fiber Optic Network. The development of 5G may push mobile device manufactures to move all technology off of the WiFi platform and move it to 5G in the future, we just don’t know yet.
  4. Removal of the ceiling mounted projectors is not an option in any room at this point. The school’s ceilings are asbestos and we had to work under extremely careful conditions when installing them to limit the amount of asbestos dust released when drilling in the mounts for those projectors. To remove them would cost the school thousands of dollars in asbestos abatement fees since the ceilings crumble quite easily. So the fact is the projectors stay where they are whether you use them or not.

Currently the only mobile devices that are actually school property are the current teacher laptop computers we have purchased for the staff and the Friendship Hall Mobile Media Unit, the Samsung Chromebooks, the Converted Nook Tablets, the Original iPads and the iPad Minis. The donated Android Tablets, and the Netbook computers and the old converted teacher laptops are also owned by the school. All of the wired computer systems are owned by the school along with the printers, and networking equipment.

All other mobile devices, the Acer, Lenovo, and Dell Chromebooks, all of the Android Tablets in Grade 1, and all of the iPads in Kindergarten and Grade 2 and the iPads distributed to teachers last year, are actually the property of the Pennsylvania Department of Education since they were purchased with state funds. A recent Dell Chromebook replacement due to damage caused by one of students was purchased by the parent of the student who damaged the original ACER Chromebook and is currently the property of the school and will remain so. All of our Raspberry Pi computer systems are school owned and our Arduino computer system is also owned by the school.

Since the majority of our mobile equipment doesn’t belong to the school I have been greatly concerned after working on that equipment over the summer as to the state of those devices and the lack of care for this equipment. In addition, our Samsung devices have now exceeded their product life cycle and many of these devices have been damaged to the point that they are no longer functional. I am attempting to salvage some parts from one or two of these to try to put at least two of the damaged systems back into service for this school year.

When I say a product has reached the end of its product life cycle whether that be hardware or software it means that the product is no longer supported and will not receive product updates or security fixes. The products will continue to operate as long as the hardware remains functional but they may not and probably won’t run any newer applications for the operating systems that remain on those devices. The devices also become very vulnerable to hacking and malware attacks since there are no more security updates.

We have also reached the end of the product life cycle for our original iPads, our iPad minis, and our Android Nook converted tablets. All of these devices still run and can run older versions of the software that was originally installed or added to these devices. They cannot manage any newer applications at this time. We had reached the end of the product life cycles on our original teacher HP laptops but because I was able to convert them all to a Linux Operating System they continue to function as if they were newer systems and can handled the Linux Product updates. I am hoping to eventually be able to do this for our Samsung Chromebooks as well, since the Chrome OS is actually a derivative or the Linux Operating system and there are several Linux versions designed to work on a Chromebook. I will not be able to do these conversions on currently available systems due to their need in the classroom for this school year, but I will attempt that with some of the ones I am trying to repair to see if it works so I know whether we will be able to do this for all of the older Samsung Chromebooks. The disadvantage of course is that it means that during the 2020-2021 school year consideration will need to be given to replacing the Samsung Chromebooks with current Chromebook models and we will probably need to resort to state funds for those replacements.

CARE OF THE EQUIPMENT:

  1. All battery operated equipment should only be charged when the battery reaches 10% or below. This will preserve battery life and maintain equipment use. Students in Middle School are to check their battery life after each use and plug in those devices whose battery has reached 10% or less. Teachers are to check all student devices in grades K through 5 concerning power levels before having the student place them back in the charging stations. Devices that have not reached the 10% level should not be plugged in to be charged. This goes for teacher laptops as well. Teachers are to check their battery levels throughout the day and charge only when the laptop reaches the 10% level. Laptops should not be plugged in all day long.
  2. When removing a device from the charging station or plugging it back in, the plugs should be handled very carefully, and no excessive force should be used to plug a device in or remove a plug from the device.
  3. All devices should be returned to their specific locations in the charging stations and devices should not be place back on shelves where they do not belong.
  4. Charging stations are to be kept locked when devices are not in use during the school day and are to be locked at night before the teacher leaves.
  5. NOTE: The cleaning instructions below should only be carried out when the equipment is turned off. It should never be done when the equipment is turned on.
  6. All screens should be cleaned after each use. Using a disinfectant wipe is recommended especially during flu season. Outside of flu season a regular cleaning wipe without Clorox can be used. In place of wipes a soft cloth and a spray of 1 part white vinegar to 3 parts water can be used instead. The spray should be sprayed on the cloth not on the device screen.
  7. Keyboards on all devices should be wiped down with a disinfectant wipe after each use during flu season. Outside of flu season the keyboards should be wiped down with a regular non-Clorox wipe or the vinegar and water mixture and soft cloth mentioned above.
  8. Headsets and/or ear-buds should be cleaned with a disinfectant wipe after each use throughout the year.
  9. Headsets and ear-buds and speakers need to be carefully plugged in and removed carefully so as not to break off the pin connectors of the jacks in the audio sockets of the devices.
  10. All device cases should be cleaned once a week using the same procedures for screens and keyboards mentioned above.
  11. No eating or drinking should be done when a mobile device is out on a teachers or students desk. All devices should be placed back in the charging stations when beverages or snacks are being served in the classroom or when students are allowed to eat or drink in the classroom. No eating or drinking at any wired computer station in the classroom.
  12. All wired computer systems are to be cleaned once weekly using the procedures already mentioned. A good dust cloth can be used to clean the cases of the monitor and the CPU case, as well as any attached printers.
  13. Sweeping up all dust around the computer and printer stations should be done weekly. Dust is the enemy of all digital devices since it collects and produces static electricity which can damage the digital components.
  14. Document camera lenses and/ where appropriate, bulb areas should be cleaned using the water and vinegar procedure mentioned previously but only when the equipment is off.
  15. Interactive Digital Display Screens, Flat Screen TV, or Digital Notice Boards – Interactive Digital Display Screens need to be cleaned as if they were a screen on a Mobile Computing Device. They need to be cleaned after each use. Flat Screen TV’s should be cleaned using the Screen Cleaning procedures previously mentioned once a week. The Digital Display Notice Boards should be cleaned once a week as well using the same procedures.
  16. Power cords and power charging units need to be inspected weekly for any possible exposed wiring or any overheating of the charging units. Any potential issues of this nature need to be reported immediately since the pose a fire hazard to the school. These items should be unplugged immediately.
  17. All wiring and cabling associated with the wired computer systems or other mobile devices should be inspected weekly for any potential damage so that this may be reported and repairs or replacements can be made quickly.
  18. Any device plugs that feel very warm when they are unplugged or are showing signs of possible melting should be reported immediately and the devices unplugged.
  19. The need for printer supplies should be reported as soon as possible. Budget restrictions may result in some supplies being substantially delayed or not available at all. Alternative measures will be provided if that is the case. I will be training all staff and students in proper printer ink and toner cartridge replacement techniques.
  20. For teachers using projectors in their classrooms, Rudy and I will clean these devices once month. If you are noticing significant dust build up on the lens prior to the monthly cleaning let us know and we will clean the lenses more frequently.
  21. Teachers, please keep all projector, digital pointer, air conditioner and other remote controls securely in your desks at all times. We have had some of these walk off and want to be sure we are not having to replace these because some are very difficult to replace. Please let me know as soon as possible when these devices need batteries. If you notice any corrosion on the device let me know right away because that could be caused by faulty batteries or the device getting wet for some reason.
  1. If using WEBcams or other digital camera devices in the school you will need to make sure the lenses on these devices are cleaned. Some also use standard carbon batteries so please check to make sure the device is operational and does not need battery replacement before using the device. Some of these devices use rechargeable batteries and you will need to make sure the battery has been charged and that the charger is available for use. All of these devices use some form of USB or mini HDMI cables to connect to a computer for downloading images or for connecting to a computer for WEBinars. Check these cables carefully for any signs of wear before plugging them in to your computer or Chromebook. Some of these devices will also require special software to be loaded onto your laptop or Chromebook for the device to be used. I will install the software as needed and show you how to update that software when updates are available.
  2. External DVD, CD, and Video Tape Players – Several classrooms have one or more of these devices. These devices need to be dusted on a regular basis. Dust severely retards the effectiveness of the electromagnetic player heads on these devices. Please check the media you are using before you insert it for any scratches or other defects. If a disk is only mildly scratched you can use a damp soft cloth and some standard toothpaste to remove minor scratches to a DVD or CD. You should not attempt this with a video tape. Any finger smudges can be removed with a soft cloth and the vinegar and water mixture mentioned previously. Check to make sure the remote controls for these devices are with these players and make sure the batteries are working in the device. Also check to make sure you are not seeing any signs of wear or overheating with the power cords that come with these devices. Many of these devices are now quite a few years old and most of our Video Tape Units are totally obsolete at this time. Unfortunately we still have a significant number of Videos in the school library that are used for instruction. As Library funding becomes available we hope to be able to replace many of these with DVD versions of these materials. As you are all aware streaming services are replacing CDs and DVDs while Vinyl records are making a comeback. We have no vinyl record players in the school at this time. As for the use of Streaming Services, since many require subscriptions you will need to talk with the school principal as to whether the school wishes to purchase a subscription to those services. With more and more content, both music and video being shifted over to these services and with our school no longer having free cable TV service as part of our eRATE Internet Services contract this may be an important investment for the future. In order for the school to have the Cable TV service our school’s cable network would have to be completely rewired. We tried using the digital cable converters but they didn’t work because the cable wiring in the school is so old that the digital signal can not be effectively carried over the cable even with the converted boxes and the converter boxes required continual rebooting with each use if the TV were turned off for any reason.
  3. We have a few DVD Writers available in the school that were designed to handle making CD’s and DVDs in multiple copies rather than just one at a time like you can on some of our laptops; however, you also need to be aware that most newer laptops are not being made any longer with DVD drives with the continuing shift to streaming media.
  4. Backup Drives and USB Flash Drives – Students and Teachers should have their own USB flash drives. For students we recommend drive sizes of 16 Gigabytes, for teachers we recommend USB Flash Drives of no less than 64 Gigabytes. The school’s external hard drives are used for backing up administrative systems and server content only at this time. If a teacher wishes to use an external hard drive for backup of their instructional content this will have to be purchased by the teacher. It is possible that a standard operating system backup drive may be made to provide quick re imaging of teacher laptops, but that won’t include any teacher created content and may not contain all of the applications a teacher might use. When using USB drives, please make sure you carefully insert and remove the drive from the mobile device. Please don’t try to force a USB drive into the port. The USB drive’s adapter must be the opposite of the Mobile Device’s port to be inserted correctly. More training will be done on this during the school year. Teachers and students should only use USB drives that do not have special rubber representation of characters or animals on them. These don’t fit into most laptop and Chromebook USB ports and only standard shaped USB drives should be used with these devices. I know the students like the rubber characters and animals but they can use those at home, not in school. All mobile and wired devices should be equipped with appropriate malware protection whether it is a school device or a personal device. Malware protection includes anti-virus software, other malware protection such as phishing scams, and intrusion detection. Malware protection that pro-actively scans all connected devices is recommended. All Malware protection software needs to be updated regularly, sometimes several times a week depending on the degree of malware attacks that are going on. Please be aware that the closer we get to the 2020 Presidential Primaries and the General Election the rate of malware attacks will increase exponentially and more hacking attacks will also occur. While we will do our best to avoid these problems, no single piece of malware protection is available to prevent all potential attacks. Having done specific training with the NSA on CyberSecurity I can tell you now that even the most diligent of Anti-Malware services simply can’t keep up with the volume and complexity of malware attacks that are occurring on a daily and weekly basis. This form of Cyber-Warfare is very real and very dangerous. Please do not respond to any adds that may pop up on your devices, and please don’t respond to any email or texts from parties you do not know personally. Please don’t be fooled by official looking emails. Under Federal Law, no organization, bank, or business credit department, may request personal information or account information unless you have made the contact with them first, without sending you a certified letter requesting that information. If you provide personal information for subscriptions to WEBsites please read the disclosure agreements carefully. If you are using school information, please make sure you have cleared this with the school principal first so that he is aware that you are signing up for that service using your school information.
  5. SPECIAL NOTE: The pop-up blocking software that we had been using in the school. Ad Aware is no longer free as are many of those products. Since each device would require a license for the use of that software, we are carefully evaluating both our content blocking services as well as what pop-up blocking software may be available at a reasonable price. Also please don’t click on allow location sharing or accept cookies on WEBsites. While most cookies are relatively harmless some can be used to install back-door software on your system that allows hackers to access your device without you knowing it. Also please consult me prior to downloading any new software so I can carefully examine the licensing agreements. Many of these also install hidden software on your system that allows for back-door operations or will install applications that are bloat-ware to your systems making them slower and more difficult to use.
  6. The use of Robotics, Drones, and Raspberry Pi and Arduino Computing Systems in the school. Most of our current Robot devices are easily used in introductory mode for students in grades Prek4 through 4th Grade without any prior programming experience. A few of our robots require specific programming skills are are meant for students who can at least program using the Scratch or Blockly programming languages. Students should complete the Code.org training first and then move to the Scratch and/or Blockly programming that follows the same type of Visual Programming Block sequences. Students can begin the Code.org training in PreK 4 and Kindergarten with the non-device activities. From Grade 1 through 4 they should be using the actual Code.org coding lessons. All students in the school will participate in the Annual Week of Code sponsored by Code.org. The Drones use either a standard game control type controller or use coding that is similar to the Visual Programming, but can also use Python and Javascript coding as well. The Arduino computer system uses Python programming and is only meant for use by students in the Middle School who have advanced in their programming skills beyond Visual Coding. The Raspberry Pi computers (KANO and PIPER) have built in Operating systems and Applications that use a version of Linux designed to provide a basic Basic Graphical User Interface for the Operating System and some standard Linux type applications. The KANO system also allows for programming with Scratch. The Piper Computer uses a version of Minecraft to teach programming skills. The newest of our Raspberry Pi computers can be used like the KANO and Piper if it is hooked up to an HDMI monitor and a standard USB mouse and Keyboard. It does contain some software designed for scientific measurement which can make it a valuable tool for both Middle School Science classes as well as for the school garden project. Our Lego Robotics set uses a form of Blockly for programming. Our Makey Makey Board can use either Scratch or Blockly programming tools. Our Hummingbird Robotics set uses Blockly as well for its programming. I would strongly urge all teachers to begin working on the Code.org coding lessons with their students as part of their math curriculum during the 2019-2020 school year. ALL OF THESE DEVICES REQUIRE PRIOR TRAINING TO OPERATE AND MUST BE CHECKED OUT OF THE STREAM LAB BEFORE USE.
  7. The Mobile Media Cart in Friendship Hall. This unit was designed to provide media support for use by Specials Teachers, the Prep Program, and other faculty and approved Parish Groups. It contains an HDMI/VGA projector, a Sound System, remote control for the projector, and a laptop computer. The use of this cart must be approved by the principal and may be used only after proper training of those persons using the cart equipment prior to its use. No person not trained on this equipment may use it and any damage that occurs to any of the equipment is solely the responsibility of the person using the equipment. Replacement or repair cost will be borne by that person. Like all of the other equipment mentioned all of these devices need cleaning after each use using the procedures mentioned above, and the cart must be kept locked and stored properly when not in use.
  8. Friendship Hall Sound System – This system is extremely costly and was donated by a former student’s family. The microphones associated with this system and the setup of this equipment should only be handled by persons properly trained in its use. A secondary system will be installed this school year to supplement the primary system and allow for two channel use of the mobile microphone system. Again when this secondary system is installed, only persons properly trained in its use may use this equipment. The CD player and USB player with this sound system operates off of a separate controller and again proper training is required for the use of this system. During Flu Season the microphones should be properly cleaning with disinfecting wipes after each use. Before and after that they should be cleaned once a week with a standard wipe, but only when the equipment is properly turned off. Please report any problems with the sound system or Friendship Hall Speakers immediately so those problems can be attended to as quickly as possible.
  9. Server Room Equipment and Access – The server room contains some very specialized equipment and access is limited to persons with specific training in the use of that equipment. Since the server room is also adjacent to a staff office area efforts will be made to create a barrier between these two locations so that the office area is accessible and access to the server area is only open to persons with specific training in that equipment. There will be a commercial printer black and white print station, and a commercial color laser printer station in the server room. These printers are designed to handle special printing and copying assignments that cannot be handled by other equipment in the school. The maintenance of all of this equipment will be handled during the 2019-2020 school year by the Tech Coach and appropriate outside experts as needed.
  1. Telephone and Public Address Equipment in the school — All of the Telephone and Public Address systems in the school are the property of Avaya Communications and Verizon Communications. The handsets on all telephones should be cleaned with a disinfecting wipe after each use during flu season. Otherwise they should be cleaned weekly. No other cleaning or maintenance of this equipment should be done by school staff. If the equipment is not working the appropriate servicing organization will be contacted for assistance.
  2. Internet Related Equipment – Modem, Router, Switches, Hubs, Access Points – The school does not own any of the Modem equipment in the school. All current modem equipment is owned by Penteledata Services our current Internet Service Provider. Since the modem is our primary connection to the Internet any specific problems with that equipment will be handled through Penteledata Services. The school owns the Routers, Managed Switches, all hubs, and access points in the school. All of this other equipment will be managed by the Tech Coach during the 2019-2020 school year. Since we may be changing our Internet Service Provider during the 2020-2021 school year it is possible that the school will need to invest in a new router to handle the faster Internet speeds desired, as well as some new hubs to replace the older hubs in the classrooms. Our managed switches are all Gigabit switches and should be more than adequate for future Internet Services use.
  3. Security Systems – The school owns all of its own security system equipment. We do not have a service contract for this equipment so servicing this equipment is the responsibility of the school. Since this is specialized equipment a decision will need to be made regarding purchasing services from an outside contractor since no maintenance information was provided with the purchase of this equipment. Additional Security camera systems are being planned for the PreK areas and that equipment will be school owned from existing school inventory. That equipment will have to be maintained by the school.
  4. There are a wide range of other technology devices that we have in the school. would be writing several more pages of instructions for those devices. Rather than take the time to do that. I will be providing training on these devices as they may be assigned for specific projects that the teachers and students will work on throughout the school year. You will be provided with specific directions at that time for their use.

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