Technology update for summer 2009
by PETER YOUNG
Director of Operational Technology
On behalf of the technology department of Rockford Public Schools (RPS), I would like to thank the community for the support of the May 2008 bond issue and the difference this is making for students and staff in the district. Through the use of bond monies, last summer we installed new workstations and student computer labs and updated the district’s network infrastructure to support the demands of new technology.
During the past few months, we have continued improving and expanding the use of technology in the district by installing projection systems in classrooms and sound systems in all K-8 classrooms for improved learning, have purchased new equipment for the auditorium and have also expanded and purchased adaptive technology for special needs students.
Another of the concepts we researched and are now in the process of implementing is a device called a multi-function printer (MFP). What in the past was a one-function printer has now been expanded to include the functions of scanning, copying and faxing. With high speed networks, the ability to combine these everyday functions into one device makes great economical sense. We can reduce the space requirements with a smaller footprint of one device compared to four. For example, we are able to eliminate two printers, a fax machine and copy machine in each building by installing a multi-function printer. We also reduce the number of service contracts or calls from many vendors to one. Other economic savings are in the cost of printing consumables, such as paper and toner.
Printing and copying capabilities on the network allows for many users to share the resources at one time, which in turn reduces our operating costs. The finishing capabilities of these devices allow users to create professional-looking documents right from their workstations.
Scanning with these devices is a newer function that all staff members will have access to use in their buildings. The ability to scan a document introduces a whole new way of distributing material without having to print, copy and distribute manually. For example, we now have the capability of scanning a document and sending it directly to a shared network resource or we can e-mail the document directly to a user or group of users. Likewise, faxing can be accomplished directly to a networked folder without having to print, making this a paperless fax reception. This feature allows users to retrieve documents directly from their computer. Since the device is connected to the network directly, fax confirmations can also be sent via e-mail, again saving paper.
A stated goal of the school district in RAMS VII is to work toward a greener environment. The implementation of one multi-function printer in each building is one more step in accomplishing that goal. We are grateful to the community and Board of Education for their support, and are excited about the new learning and teaching technologies for both students and staff, which will be available in the new school year.