Long before students filled the halls of Eden Prairie schools this week, the technology department was busy handling 20,000 electronic devices in preparation for another roll-out of the district’s [email protected] initiative.
“There is much planning and preparation before students even get their devices,” said Becky Enger, technology support manager.
In a presentation at the Aug. 26 Eden Prairie School Board meeting, Enger and Joe Brazil, assistant director of technology operations, offered a glimpse into all the preparation that goes behind collecting, purchasing, programing, updating software, leasing and deploying more than 10,000 electronic devices to both students and staff.
The initiative is funded by the district’s technology levy. This fall, 4,650 iPads were handed out to kindergarten through sixth-grade students, up significantly from last year’s deployment. A total of 3,400 high school students will once again be equipped with MacBook Air laptops after last year’s initial roll-out. Central Middle School is entering its third year of equipping 1,400 seventh- and eighth-graders with iPads.
The arduous process for i-Learn specialists began with the collection of last year’s devices, including all the student-issued devices as well as 1,350 staff iPads and laptops. All together, 8,550 devices were collected.
Along with the current devices, new equipment was purchased for this school year including 6,000 iPads, 3,400 high school student laptops and 150 K-3 staff laptops, for a grand total of 9,550 new devices.
All 10,800 devices were then prepared for use for this school year, incorporating crucial operational systems such as the device enrollment program, Apple ID for students and the volume purchase program.
“We spent two years setting up high-density Internet and paired with the city of Eden Prairie on the project,” Brazil said. “We can get a fast connection at any corner of our schools.”
Brazil and staff worked with an Apple engineer to leverage tools. Using a new process gained from that experience, staff can now set up iPads completely over the air. Providing district Apple IDs has also helped ease families into using the new devices, Brazil said.
The district’s next generation firewall also allows a way to monitor web traffic on district devices from anywhere.
With more than 10,000 devices at the fingertips of Eden Prairie students and families, the staff is prepared for any questions that may arise at their help desk, which can be reached via phone or email.
“Starting yesterday, we have been getting 200 calls a day,” Enger said.
The I-Learn staff also go into classrooms to ensure connectivity. They have begun bringing staff into offices to pick up devices and met with them on a one-to-one basis. In addition, the staff have been supporting all open house events and equipped students for summer school.
Despite the lengthy process, they are hoping their hard work pays off.
“Our department is very excited and really prepared to meet this goal,” Enger said.”We look forward to the next few weeks.”
Contact Natalie Conrad at [email protected] or follow her @EPSunCurrent.