Q: Are teachers & staff getting new laptops next year? If so, when? How?
A: The Technology Department will work with the staff at each building to schedule a time to meet with each grade level/department/team to review the basics of the new laptop, steps to accessing and managing Google files & working with each teacher within their classroom to connect to peripherals such as a projector and document camera, to ensure everything is functioning as expected. Prior to the scheduled transition meetings, Building Tech Integration Specialists will be provided with the new laptops in order to conduct training sessions in preparation, focusing primarily on desktop organization and installing, configuring and managing Google Backup and Sync.
The teachers at MDLKC transitioned during the first few weeks of September which will be followed by grade level teams at Bancroft in late October, then a few departments at KHS, followed by teams at the remaining buildings. The goal is to complete the transition of all staff, including the administrative team, by July-August 2019. Due to the unique software related to STEM courses & KHS Digital Arts & Video Production, we'll be working with these teachers separately to determine the best solution.
Q: What type of device will it be?
A: Based upon the results of testing devices within the Technology Department as well as feedback from teachers who explored each device, the overwhelming front runner was the Dell Latitude 3490, with an i3 processor, 8GB memory & 128GB SATA SSD. In addition to the noticeably fast performance, other feedback received highlighted the manageable size, as well as the durability and smooth transition in use from the Acer to the Dell, including the ease in connecting and recognizing classroom peripherals.
We also tested and explored the Dell Chromebook 13 3380, as well as another version of the Dell Latitude 3490, with 500GB storage. Basically, the Latitude 3490 with a 128 SSD provides the smoothest transition from our existing Acer laptops with significantly faster speed, especially with the majority of our programs being online. A lot of concern seemed to focus on staff readiness, time and support needed if the decision to transition to Chromebooks was made for teachers, so this greatly influenced the decision to maintain a Windows device moving forward.
Q: What's the process for deciding which device? Who's involved?
A: First we provided our Dell team with our needs, timeline and price range, then we secured multiple versions of potential devices, tested within the Technology Department, then coordinated a month long exploration period for teachers at MDL to dedicate time to explore all possible solutions within their classroom to provide feedback. Next we opened the discussion and offer to explore the devices during the Staff Laptop Exploration Sessions in May, as well as during the June 26th Collaborative Session. Lastly, anyone interested in exploring the devices being considered and/or providing feedback in person or via email, was invited to do so. All the devices were setup and ready for use in Room 21 throughout the summer and we welcomed and appreciated any and all feedback.
Q: Will the new laptop work with my projector/interactive board/doc camera?
A: Upon testing within our Department as well as the feedback from those who evaluated the device, the Dell 3490 Latitude connected to all peripherals within the classroom without issue. As we transitioned teachers at MDLKC, connectivity and transitioning from the Acer to the Dell continues to be incredibly smooth, with some rare instances when settings needed to be modified for audio and/or displays.
Q: Will the new devices have a touchscreen? Number pad? CD/DVD Drive?
A: No, No and No. We've concluded, based upon the feedback, that none of these features/functions are essential for all teachers, but there are in fact needs in some specific areas that find them beneficial. As a result, we will work with Building Administrators and teams to accommodate where these functions are essential.
Q: What operating system will the new devices have?
Q: Will all of my files, photos, music & videos be transitioned to the new laptop?
A: No, our plan is to transfer only files stored in Desktop and Documents to the new laptops, for multiple reasons. The new laptops have significantly less storage than our current Acers, as our focus continues to shift more to online programs as well as the need for faster performance versus more storage. Staff continue to embrace the expectation that they are responsible for backing up their files and have transitioned to viable alternatives for storage and backup, especially for personal files including music, videos and photos.
Q: What does the District plan to do with the Acers?
A: At this point it has yet to be determined, however we're considering the possibility of expanding the Substitute Laptop initiative which we're piloting in the Fall, as well as maintaining several devices as spares moving forward. The Acers will not be resold to staff, nor will they be used to support the Student Loaner Laptop program due to their size and lack of available replacement parts.