The Kirkwood Call

The good, the bad and the laptops

Richard Pfeifer, features writer

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“Unable to create account at this time. Please check connection and try again later.” Some KHS students attempted to set up their KSD-issued laptops, January 11. The scene in Gina Muller’s homeroom was not exempt from the effects. Some students were bogged down with glitches as some just barely got through the steps. Grade-level principals bounced from classroom to classroom relaying information from the technology department in a scramble to stop confusion.

“When you have four subs attempting to [set up laptops] and 50 students in a classroom, there’s going to be problems,” Jeff Townsend, assistant principal, said. “[KHS had all their students set up the laptops] at the same time because we didn’t want to cut into academic time. [However], because we staggered the iPad set-up when they came in it had less problems. It didn’t jam the network like the laptop set up did.”

Homeroom teachers attempted to guide their students through the process with a video issued by the KHS technology department, however, issues persisted and rooms filled with laughter as the video proceeded through the initial steps. Muller attempted to advise her 50 students compared to the 16:1 student teacher ratio at KHS.

“It was controlled chaos,” Muller said. “When you have 50 students in a class, you know at least half aren’t really listening. That along with the timing [of the email]. [The technology department] sent out the email, [including the video], one hour before homeroom began. I️ didn’t get a chance to watch the video over, so that caused some problems.”

According to Eric Zigler, KHS technology specialist, the hiccup some students ran into was when they attempted to set up the computer’s profile, enabling students and faculty to download specific software on their computer. The glitch was due to an internet-issue that was later resolved by the technology department. Although admitting to a few glitches during the process, he also noted that it could have gone a lot worse.  

It was controlled chaos”

— Muller

“I’m feeling really good about [the laptops],” Zigler said. “We had a lot of things in place to make sure all the software was pushed out to the students. Besides the internet issue some students experienced, [the laptop set up] went relatively smoothly.”

The student response to the set up is was varied. Some students took to Snapchat to voice their opinions at the problems experienced during the set up, others took a sigh of relief as they didn’t have to use their outdated iPad minis.

“I’m excited for the laptops,” Kiden Smith, sophomore, said. “They’re a lot better than the iPads. I can actually type now. Before, teachers would want you to type on the screen and it was just really difficult. I do think that it’s going to be [limited] since there is still going to be a lot of websites blocked.”

 

Below is an email by Bryan Painter, assistant superintendent, congratulating teachers, staff and students on the set up of laptops.   

“Today, our staff and students at KHS embraced the Pioneer spirit and became our first students to receive individual laptops. The good news is, we did it!  A vast majority of our students left today with a laptop. There were exceptions, unfortunately, and our goal is to have all students equipped with their laptops by the end of school on Friday.

While the deployment process went as planned in some classrooms, students in other classrooms experienced intermittent technical difficulties with set-up and connectivity.  We believe this was, at least in part, due to the number of devices logging in at the same time.  Processing and problem solving has already begun, and we will continue to work with our technical team, network provider, and outside consultants to fully understand and resolve any issues.  

I’d like to personally thank our students and teachers. They did a fantastic job staying on task during deployment – often troubleshooting and problem solving as we navigated through the process.  Their positive, can-do spirit followed the tone set by Dr. Havener, his leadership team at KHS, and our wonderful KHS and District technology staff.  They were amazing.

While we experienced minor challenges, it was still a monumental day. I’m grateful to our community for establishing the technology fund, ensuring our students will continue to have high quality technology tools that open doors to learning.

Should you or your student need technical assistance in the evenings, we are pleased to offer LiveChat technical support – beginning tonight and running through spring break.  Help Desk support hours are 6:00-9:00 pm, Sunday through Thursday evenings.  Kirkwood technology and/or teaching staff will be “on the other end” of your LiveChat conversations, ready to assist as possible.  If we are unable to take care of your needs, staff members will contact your school to let someone know that additional on-site support may be needed.”

Day two laptop update by Bryan Painter:

KHS Students, Staff, and Families – Today was another exciting day at Kirkwood High School!  Our new tools for learning were in full use in classrooms around campus.  Building and technology staff worked with numerous students to problem solve around specific laptop needs and address system issues that may be slowing down our work.

Please know that we’re aware of “infrastructure” needs that still need to be addressed, including some Wi-Fi concerns and (more notably) the speed at which our wireless access points are being fed the data.  This switch will be worked on over the weekend; district servers will be down from 8:00-10:00pm on Saturday while this is being done, meaning Internet access will be limited.  We have also made plans for an outside consultant to be on site next Wednesday, just in case issues aren’t fully resolved over the weekend.  We remain fully committed to addressing concerns, realizing some needs may take time to resolve.

As a reminder, the online help desk will be available Sunday-Thursday from 6:00-9:00pm (including this weekend).  If you post questions at other times, you will likely not get a response.

 

About the Photographer
Emma Verrill, artist

Interests: I play the bassoon for a number of ensembles, as well as the flute for marching band. I am also really involved in social justice, both through...

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