Inside L-S: Goodbye craptops!

For many, the technology department is a mysterious group of people who work in a locked office in the corner of the school. They occasionally materialize to fix something, and then retreat to their office space. However, seven professionals comprise the District’s technology department; they are led by Mr. Bill Griscom, technology director, who came to L-S before the 2014-15 school year, and is moving full speed ahead to revamp the technology resources throughout the District.

Mr. Bill Griscom is the technology director at L-S

A funeral for the craptop

At left, the venerable "craptop";
At right, the new Dells
The primary device in use at Lampeter-Strasburg High School for many years has been Lenovo laptops -- somewhat affectionately referred to by many students and staff as “craptops”. Griscom says they were purchased several years ago using state money from the Classrooms for the Future (CFF) initiative, which was championed by former Governor Ed Rendell. A 2007 press release shows that L-S High School received $382,693 to purchase laptops and associated equipment to modernize its pedagogical approach.

Sustaining that influx of resources proved to be a monumental task, and Griscom is happy to report that the department is finally moving away from those devices, and will not sink additional resources into them. Over the summer, the high school received approximately 270 new Dell laptops that are lighter, faster, and have longer battery life, addressing the three primary complaints about the Lenovo laptops. Now, each core subject area high school department has two carts of the new laptops, while the Lenovos are still sprinkled throughout classrooms, but are now quasi-desktops, mostly plugged into walls.

Last year, the District experimented with Chromebooks, which are web-based and essentially allow a student to use Google Chrome. Ultimately, they decided the high school needed the full functionality of an operating system, although Griscom notes the Chromebooks are being successfully implemented in elementary schools. At the high school, he felt they would not be the best fit since many classes use specialty programs not available on Chromebooks.

“I didn’t think it was appropriate to take that leap to tie teachers’ hands [in terms of what they could do with computers],” Griscom says.

Sidebar: Inside the NOC

The District has made major investments in technology over the last two years, including rewiring much of the networking capabilities. Those improvements are centered in the Network Operations Center (NOC). Mr. Andrew Hoover, Network and Systems Administrator at L-S, gave an exclusive tour. See the video.

A paradigm shift

The other big summer project of the department was the installation of 230 new wireless access points around the District; almost every classroom now has one, which facilitates faster connection to the internet.

Both of these developments are emblematic of a paradigm shift within the department; in the past, Griscom estimates over 75% of staff time was sunk into “short order” repairs (e.g., a student can’t login, a computer won’t connect to the internet, etc.). With these two upgrades -- as well as a planned replacement of the remainder of the Lenovo laptops this summer -- the department will be free to focus on bigger picture items that will help facilitate the integration of technology into learning.

Griscom is proud to report, "We are becoming more proactive."

--Benjamin Pontz, Editor-In-Chief

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