Alabama schools overcome data corruption issues

Mobile County Public Schools (AL) recently turned to Information Transport Solutions to overcome data corruption issues and update the technology for its K-12 schools. System users were complaining about the slow performance of school-based applications, and the IT staff found that the real problem would require more than a quick replacement of the school district’s 10-year old network switching hubs.

Mobile Schools’ CIO David Akridge explains that, following a demo of Cisco’s 21st century classroom, he signed on with ITS to develop a “strategic roadmap” similar to the demonstration’s IT-based classrooms. He adds that the key to success was getting principals from the 97 schools in the district to purchase standardized components as outlined in the plan. In exchange, Akridge promised that grants received by the central IT office would be dispersed equally to the district’s elementary, middle and high schools, so everyone could receive the same classroom technology.

Akridge explains that corrupted data was forcing the IT staff to spend too much time and resources on “cleansing data pulled from the student management database,” and even after the data was cleared out, they couldn’t run the web-based programs due to the aging hubs. In addition, the district needed to standardize on IT or telecommunication-related purchases, since employees were previously purchasing whatever technology they viewed as a appropriate for their schools. Akridge offered that if each principle would purchase only standardized components in his plan, he would apply portions of his office’s budget to help them meet their telecommunication goals.

The new plan goes beyond installing Cisco switches to replace the older hubs, with a top priority of providing 100% wireless access in each of the district’s building to students, teachers and administrators. Akridge and ITS will also install Cisco 7940 and 7941 VoIP phones inside classrooms to provide intercom, voicemail, 911 and security access. The district will also install Cisco video monitors and digital messaging systems in lobbies, cafeterias, hallways and classrooms, as a way to “keep learning ‘in motion’”.