The Cloud

9/6/2012 12:00:00 AM

When it comes to running a district’s online operations, the general consensus of this working group was not answering the questions “if?” or “why?” go with a cloud-based strategy but “when?” and “how best?” Each presenter had distinct visions, concerns, costs, and applications. Some opted for closed strategies using software that comes with costs. Others chose open systems with services that are free. All participants agreed that this information infrastructure, no matter if you call it “the cloud” or not, is an essential element of any district IT vision. Here are some takeaways from the conversation:

Burrillville, RI School Department
Presenter: Paul Barrette, Director of Technology

His suggestions for implementing: Project-based utilization of cloud tools can drive adoption and be sure to involve lots of stakeholders in planning and implementation.

First, some realizations: Online features and functions can be as much a frustration as a benefit. Some cloud tools are useless if they are not being used online, and not all Web browsers are created equal. Some pleasant surprises: Adoption by the staff was swift, concerns from parents were almost non-existent, and the cloud infrastructure was essential during a recent weather emergency.

Tools They Use

Refurbished desktops
NComputing L300 solution
Google Apps
MMS Generations SIS
Study Island


• Develop a vision for how this fits with your district’s goals (college readiness, parent participation)
• Assess your network. What parts can you do in-house?
• Don’t try to build the entire cloud environment in one project. Even the big boys don’t do this.
• Choose a few applications and services that will have the biggest impact. Look for lowhanging fruit.
• Develop a good sales pitch. This is not an easy concept to sell.
—Robert Gravina

Maine Township, 207 (IL)
Presenters: Dr. Ken Wallace, Superintendent and Dr. Henry C. Thiele, CTO

Going with open solutions doesn’t necessarily mean sacrificing quality or security. Early adopter of the cloud since 2007, Thiele says the school’s culture has become more collaborative and flexible since implementing the cloud. It removes walls, actually closes the digital divide, and increases demands for other technologies. Another myth buster: just because it is free doesn’t mean students are being served advertisements. Wallace says the trick is taking traditional institutions and making them more nimble. Doing that involves supporting the staff that ultimately leads that transformation in the day-to-day business of running schools.

Tools They Use

Google Apps
Aspen SIS
School Messenger
Palo Alto Web Filter
Discovery Streaming
Follet Destiny & TetraData
Brain Pop
Education 2020

Poway Unified School District
Robert Gravina, Chief Information and Technology Officer

“We use our cloud to help teachers and students set goals. Walk into any one of our 1st and 2nd grade classrooms and students will tell you not only what they need to learn, but how they are learning it.” — Robert Gravina

Develop a vision for how the cloud fits with your district’s goals such as college readiness and parent participation. Assess your network and ask yourself what parts of the implementation can you do in-house and what do you need to outsource. Also, don’t try to build the entire cloud environment in one project—choose a few applications and services that will have the biggest impact. Most important: Develop a good sales pitch as this is not an easy concept to sell at first.

Tools They Use

Cisco Shop
Dell Desktops & servers (we are 95% virtualized using VMWare).
Lenovo Laptops
Apple Tablets
MAP (from NWEA)
Compass Learning

Judson ISD, San Antonio, TX
Presenter: Steve Young, CTO

Your best arguments for implementing the cloud: Very high up time, recurring costs are low and predictable, technical barriers are low, and you can implement without additional staff. Best reason for using Software as a Service (SaaS) cloud solution: Deployments can be extremely efficient and cost effective. Using our Stoneware web portal as a gateway to SaaS clouds, users get an easy one-stop shop for all their applications from anywhere on any device. Creating, updating, and retiring of student and staff accounts over multiple cloud systems automatically through our UMRA identity management solution means huge time savings.

Tools They Use

Schoology LMS
Cisco wireless
nComputing X & M Series
nComputing L series and Citrix Xenapp virtual desktops

“The easy part is the wires, bolts, bits and bytes. The hard part is controlling the policies and procedures to protect the district from liabilities.”
Greg Partch, Hudson Falls Central School District, NY

Additional Participants:

Leo Brehm
Director of Information Technology, Newton Public Schools, MA

Bryan Doyle
Director of Information Technology Services, Bastrop ISD, TX

Salvador Contes, Jr.
Director of Technology, Poughkeepsie City School District, NY

Jim Klein
Director Information Services & Technology, Saugus Union School District, CA

David Harding
Superintendent, Willington Public Schools, CT

Want to read more stories like this?

Get our Free Newsletter Here!

comments powered by Disqus

Copperas Cove Independent School District Adds Another 200 Boxlight Interactive Projectors

Lawrenceville, GA – July 27, 2017 – Interactive projectors...

SIIA Announces 2017 CODiE™ Award Winners for Education Technology Industry

35 awards given for education industry innovation and excellence

Renaissance Star 360 Approved as a K-2 Assessment by the Arkansas Department of Education

WISCONSIN RAPIDS, Wis. (July 26, 2017) – Renaissance®,...

VitalSource and Macmillan Learning Team Up to Provide Enhanced Digital Solutions

New collaboration provides enhanced digital solutions for a broader po...

itslearning Certified by IMS Global Learning for OneRoster 1.1

Leading LMS Provider Ensures Schools and Districts Have Reliable and ...

Schools in Four Countries Renew or Expand Online Course Offerings from The Virtual High School

Students from Turkey, Switzerland, Mexico and Brazil Join Learners fro...

ETIN Releases Guidelines for Research on Educational Technologies in K-12 Schools

Changes in education technology and policy spur updated approach to in...

T&L Partner Post
Photo GalleriesView All Galleries >
Acer C720-2844 Chromebook

( The Acer C720-2844 Chromebook model delivers speedy performance, a quick boot time of seven seconds, and a matte anti-glare display tha...

Britannica ImageQuest

( Britannica Digital Learning has upgraded ImageQuest, a resource for schools and libraries that provides nearly three million rig...


( Promethean has released ClassFlow, a free, all-in-one, cloud-based teaching tool that lets teachers create and deliver interactive...

Adobe Voice

( Adobe has released Adobe Voice, an animated video app for the iPad that lets users create and share video stories. The app incorporate...


( The BOXLIGHT DeskBoard mobile cart adjusts both height and tilt for the P8 ultra short throw interactive projector on a white surfa...

Core 36M

( Bretford has introduced Core 36M, a 36-unit charging cart that is optimized for Chromebooks but which also supports most tablets, l...

Edmentum Sensei

( Edmentum Sensei is a mobile optimized solution that helps administrators visualize and track overall school, teacher, and student p...

HMH Player

( HMH has released HMH Player, a new native app for iOS and Google Chrome that streamlines the learning experience for improved digital ...

Juice Power System

( Bretford has unveiled an easy-to-use modular power system with exchangeable power components. The Juice Power System uses unique &#...


( LightSail Education has announced a literacy accelerator that combines books with in-text embedded assessments and real-time dat...


( myON has expanded its digital library to include a set of literacy tools to further personalize the reading experience for students whi...

Nervanix Clarity

( Nervanix has released Clarity, an application that monitors student attention levels as they study and guides them to revisit conce...


( RobotsLAB has introduced MathBall, a smart sensor basketball and tablet system that offers curricula in algebra, pre-calculus, phy...


( Wasp Barcode’s MobileAsset.EDU solutions include everything administrators need to account for their assets, from software...

OpenEd Assessment Creation Tool

( OpenEd has announced a free tool that lets teachers easily create assessments with the question types required by Common Core standard...

Panasonic TH-80LFB70U

( Panasonic’s TH-80LFB70U interactive LED display features high-speed, multi-touch, interactive capabilities to promote partic...

penveu interactive display system

( The penveu interactive display system is a handheld device that turns projectors and large screen displays into interactive whiteboar...


( Califone has updated its PresentationPro speaker. The PA310 readily connects with computers, LCD projectors, mobile devices, intera...

PowerSync+ Mobile Companion App

( Bretford Manufacturing, Inc. has announced the availability of the companion app for its PowerSync+ enabled charge and sync produc...

PureCharge Carts and Stations for iPad

( Bretford Manufacturing, Inc. has debuted the PureCharge family of iPad and iPad mini charging carts and stations. By offering pre-i...

ProQuest Research Companion

( ProQuest’s new information literacy product, Research Companion, offers videos that guide users through the research process,...

Sphere2 & Class Send Student Engagement Software Platform

( AVer Information has developed a Student Engagement platform, providing teachers and students with the tools to transmit document ca...


( AVer has released the TabChargeCT2 charge cart solution, which can hold up to 40 Chromebooks, iPads, Android or Windows tablets, lap...

VoiceLift with Instant Alert and Emergency Video Monitoring

( The Instant Alert function of the Extron VoiceLift Microphone, combined with a PoleVault, WallVault, or PlenumVault classroom AV sys...

SMART Board 6065

( The SMART Board 6065 is an ultra HD, 4K interactive flat panel that offers collaborative capabilities while ensuring lessons run s...

Gaggle Unity Partner Program

( The new Gaggle Unity Partner Program provides free data integration services for all educational technology vendors. Through the Gagg...

Waterford Early Learning, Reading, Math & Science

( Waterford Early Learning Cloud can be used at home or to supplement lessons in classrooms. It can also be used for individual adap...

NetSupport School

( The latest version of NetSupport School allows teachers to monitor and collaborate with any mix of technology. An enhanced ...


( TechSmith’s Camtasia gives teachers the tools to record lessons, create videos, and engage their audiences. Educato...

Panasonic 3E

( Intel has teamed up with Panasonic to announce the Panasonic 3E, which uses the Intel Education 2-in-1 reference design. Designed ...