Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Why Do All the Good, Free Tools End? - Part 2

     I wrote previously about the demise of CoverItLive as it moved to a paid-per-click model.  I also wrote about its immense impact on the educational experience in my classroom and others that I have worked in before as well.
     I am here to say that my faith and use of CoverItLive has returned.  I mentioned that as a nonprofit educators were encouraged to send them a message and "a Customer Support representative will get in touch with you."  I went ahead immediately when this message came out and filled out the response form.  Brittany responded to my message with an email and said this:

Thank you for your application. We’re pleased to tell you that you’ve been approved for a free version of our account for educational use in a classroom. I’ve made the following changes to your account to set you up.  I’ve created what we call an Enterprise Account (EA) for you named “FAIR School Downtown," which is now designated as our “Custom Plan” with non-profit status, which means no charges, unlimited access. I’ve associated your individual CiL account with this EA account.

     This is great news!  Thank you CoverItLive.  Obviously I cannot guarantee that you will have the same results, but it is nice to know that there are some companies out there that still recognize the importance of providing a free tool to educators. 

Summer Break Begins...Or Ends?

Summer break bring about thoughts of barbecues, warm weather, and good times at the cabin.  However, for most technology staff the summer is the busiest time of the year.  This summer for me has been no exception.  I have spent the past two weeks and the holiday hanging out with friends, family, and relaxing.  I did get a little work done at FAIR School as new equipment has begun to arrive in our building.  Actually a lot of new equipment has come in and I expect our yearly shipment of 9th grade computers today.  Here we go!  I also had the awesome opportunity to teach two graduate courses for Saint Mary's University – iPads, iPods, and iBooks Author and Google Applications for Education.  There will be a lot more on these endeavors coming soon, but for now I wanted to let you know that the vacation time from writing on this blog is over.  It is a nice change of pace to step back, take a short break, and enjoy the weather, but the time has come.  Our 1:1 programs do not get ready by themselves (roughly 300 MacBooks to get ready for grades 9-12 and 160 iPads in grades K-2) not to mention the full compliment of staff computer changes, network additions, new software coming in, and staff development trainings to conduct.  The time has come put the head down and get some things accomplished!

New equipment about to be processed
One exciting change is that we will working with JAMF Software and the Casper Suite for this upcoming school year to manage and oversee all our Apple devices district wide.  I have seen with this software package in action, tested it out for a few months, and I can truly say this will make the job of any technology director, integrationist, or your normal technician a lot easier.  It has some high level functionality (remote wipe, scripting commands, and inventory control features) as well as basic functionality (package imaging, deployment of apps, integration with Configurator, and self service) that I am really excited about.  You know that only a geek looks forward to installing a very complicated software suite!  We got to a point in our district that overseeing and deploying over 1,000 Apple devices was a bit much for three people to manage on a daily basis.  So we looked at a mobile device management (MDM) solution and landed with JAMF Software.  Outside of their great product, I enjoy the fact that these guys are local (Minneapolis, MN), so if I have a question or something is not working I can go knock on their door.  Honestly though, this company is leading the way in the area of MDMs and I look forward to deploying this solution later this month.

Even though I took a short break from writing, my mind has not stopped working on some great upcoming posts.  Here are a few of the topics:
-2 Years of iTeachers: My personal reflections on a running and working with our 1:1 iPad program.
-The Role of a SMART Board Today: What can we do with one in today's world that we cannot do with an iPad?  Where do we find SMART Boards located?  Why should we still buy them?
-The Twitter Craze and Why You Should Get Involved: A reflection on what I have learned about using Twitter over the years and the reasons for getting a Twitter account.
-Should We Start Differentiating in Graduate Courses: A close look at teaching a recent Google Applications for Education course and the need to flip and differentiate the instruction.