I arrived in Myrtle Beach on Election Day. I checked into my hotel, and I really think I’m in exactly the same room as I was in last year. I had my traditional dinner in Murrell’s Inlet, then came back to the hotel to watch the election returns.
The first day of the EdTech conference has traditionally been for longer workshops and for meeting with state tech directors. The majority of these meeting was spent learning about the upcoming replacement for our student information system, SASIxp. The replacement is PowerSchool, also from Pearson. It will be browser-based and run on an Oracle server. There are several things I like about the new system – having one central database for the entire district, being browser-based, and more streamlined management look great. However, having Oracle as the back end means the purchase of yet another server and a system with which I’m not familiar. I wish it had been SQL or something similar, but I guess I can learn Oracle, too. I’m also uncomfortable with the fact that we would always be working with live data. There is no way to make a copy of the database (that we know of) so that we can do test runs on our system.
As all of this was going on I was getting constant calls from our district that we had lost Internet access. I had called our engineers to look into it, and they were as baffled as I was. I could remote into the system, check my e-mail, and do anything I wanted, so access itself wasn’t down, but something was preventing websites from coming up. We couldn’t see anything amiss on the routers or anything else. Of course, these types of problems always wait until we are out of the district.
The afternoon session was spent with an attorney from North Carolina who discussed Acceptable Use Polices and how these related to Cyber Bullying, student safety, and freedom of speech issues. Most of the case studies were ones I had heard before, but it was good to get a reminder.
One thing that I did take away from the session was that our district needs to tighten down on teacher websites. I’m all for teacher innovation, and I like it when teachers take the initiative to develop resources on systems such as Google Pages, TeacherWeb, and similar hosting services. However, we can no longer link our district websites to these teacher webpages as their “official” classroom website. For liability purposes, we will only be able to link to websites that we host ourselves so that we have control over those sites and their content. I hate it that it’s the case, but that’s how things are.
The keynote for the day was “Doc” Holliday, a hypnotist. I’m saving that experience for its own post.