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H-F High School investing in computer technology updates

At Homewood-Flossmoor High School, “technology doesn’t drive our curriculum. It’s part of our curriculum,” Gary Posing told board of education members. Posing, director of information technology, gave that assessment to the District 233 board May 16 before it approved spending on technology upgrades.

  Homewood-Flossmoor High School students working
  in a technology lab. Updates will be made to the
  school’s technology this summer.
(Provided photo)
 

At Homewood-Flossmoor High School, “technology doesn’t drive our curriculum. It’s part of our curriculum,” Gary Posing told board of education members.

 
Posing, director of information technology, gave that assessment to the District 233 board May 16 before it approved spending on technology upgrades.
 
He said the process starts in February when faculty submit their requests, which totaled roughly $800,000. That was pared back to $478,200 after follow-up meetings and discussions on the rationale for the technology, how it will be used and the benefits to students in the classroom.
 
Posing, who has been on staff for 15 years, said the technology budget hasn’t really gone up. He and his staff use a five-year plan so that updates are prioritized and partnered with work or purchases that have been done or will be scheduled in the future. 
 
“When I started, we didn’t have a computer in every classroom and now every classroom has at least three pieces of technology, and we’ve never really exceeded that budget,” Posing explained.
 
The past two years, H-F “has been migrating to Chromebooks and this year we’ll purchase another 800,” bringing the total number to about 2,400 at the high school, he said. Chromebooks are Google-brand laptops run on the Linux system with Cloud capacity. 
 
Board member Tim Wenckus said he appreciated Posing’s “across the board approach,” noting it is not just computer labs with technology.

“This is a holistic approach to tech,” Wenckus said.

 
The purchases require constant updates on the management side. Steve Richardson, assistant director of Information Services, said, “My job is to engineer the foundation to put these things in place. I have to design an infrastructure to handle that upgrading of our wireless system so it can meet the need of the Chromebooks and also internet speeds because utilization of streaming technology in the classroom and individual content takes up a lot of speed.”
 
For example, Richardson said over the summer work will be done “so that one gigabyte (of data transmission) will be switched out for 10 gigabytes (to meet) extra demand for all the devices.” That will complement work the Information Technology Department has done over the last three years upgrading capacity.
 
Originally the infrastructure supported 30 Chromebooks “but now we have 125 clients connected to one (data) point,” Richardson said.
 
The wireless infrastructure is going to take over, he added, but the need to update the system to handle the speed and capacity will only increase over time. 
 
“As it goes it’s here today and updated tomorrow,” said Brian Dvorkin, a former physics teacher who now works as the classroom technology facilitator with the information technology group.
 
The technology updates and security protections H-F has on the system are serving students as well.  Richardson serves as the faculty sponsor for the Cybersecurity Club and has been able to share some of his work with students.
 
He said after the April Google Chrome attack and phishing scam, the Cybersecurity Club members “sat down and we researched motives and what was going on,” he told board members. “One student found the actual script programming on how it was hacked. They found information that Google employees were releasing on Reddit.
 
“So the students are part of that (H-F security) process, too. They got a real-life experience of what my role is as a network administrator and be a part of that process, and they were excited about it,” he said.
 
Board member Debbie Berman, who chairs the board’s technology committee, praised the team for their efforts, and said she was grateful for the hours the technology staff and faculty spent working together.

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