FAQ for EPISD PowerUP Laptop Delivery (For Faculty and Staff)

The following is a list of questions that we have received from teachers, administrators and other EPISD family members over the last few weeks regarding the PowerUp Laptop deployment, scheduled to begin on Friday, August 28. These are in no particular order of importance, however we have broken them up into three general categories:

  • Bandwidth and Connectivity
  • Classroom and Campus Issues
  • Office 365

FAQ: Bandwidth and Connectivity


Answer:

The high school campuses are ready; each high school campus has upgraded to 1Gb switches and routers to handle the network traffic of all classrooms simultaneously online. However, bandwidth is not infinite. The District's wireless network exists for academic purposes, and to “save” on bandwidth students are asked to turn their phones on to “Airplane Mode” when not in use. Students should put their laptop in “Airplane Mode”, by pressing the key with the small airplane on it, when students do not need to access the internet. .

Answer:

In many cases, students will not have their laptops on at all times, just as they don’t use a textbook at all times. For instance, if the teacher is asking students to watch a Kahn Academy video, this can be shown in a large group setting instead of having every student view it separately on their laptops. In group work situations, there may be a need for only one laptop to be used at a time, instead of every member of the group.

Answer:

There will likely be a massive use of bandwidth at first and there may be sporadic slowdowns due to “network overload.” This should be a temporary situation as students and teachers get used to using the laptops in class.

Answer:

Each high school classroom has a wireless network access point installed. Each access point is designed to handle students connecting at least two devices (laptop and cellphone) to the network simultaneously. It is important to note however, that students do not need to actually USE two devices at a time, and should put the unused device in Airplane mode.

Answer:

All campuses currently have a 1Gb connection with the network core. As we roll out the new network infrastructure we are increasing this connection to 10Gb.

Answer:

We have increased our internet bandwidth from 2Gb to 4Gb, and with the next eRate cycle will increase it further to 8Gb. We know that Houston ISD, with nearly 4 times the student population of EPISD, is quite sufficient with 12Gb bandwidth.

Answer:

EPISD monitors network availability 24/7 and our network technicians respond immediately to a failing circumstance, but this does not identify areas that may not have adequate wireless signal. We are assigning technicians to each high school campus for immediate response in those cases.

Answer:

No, we are currently concentrating our efforts on high schools; however, our next step is to focus on middle schools then elementary schools until the District is completely upgraded.

Answer:

It is a matter of available resources. First and foremost, eRate funding drives our ability to pay for these upgrades. Secondarily, we have limited staff and contractors available to carry out the upgrades and they are focused on the academic priorities of PowerUp.

Answer:

It will take several years of eRate funding cycles (annual) to complete the upgrades at the middle and elementary schools. This corresponds well to the District’s academic plans for PowerUp evolution: institutionalize 1:1/BYOD practices in the high schools, then rollout into the middle and elementary schools.

Answer:

After carefully considering the situation and consulting with districts involved with similar programs, EPISD chose to delay the deployment of laptops for students until our teachers and administrators had more training, were more informed about the program, and were more comfortable with having large amounts of technology on the campus. This also gave us more time to complete our additional digital textbooks as well as provide additional training during the summer months. EPISD administrators met with every high school faculty prior to the end of the 2014-15 school year to inform and get feedback about the program. This is the District's first initiative that addresses educational technology in such a wide scale, we wanted to make sure that we were prepared before going live.


FAQ: Classroom and Campus Issues


Answer:

The District is rebuilding its entire network to lessen the likelihood of a campus going down, but it is always possible. More likely are network slowdowns, which we address as they happen. For teachers that are teaching classes that have digital textbooks, they should also have a class set of the previous textbook adoption that they can access as a resource. Teachers that have classes that are not using digital texts can access their textbook resources as normal. Most teachers already have a “mental” Plan B in place no matter the lesson, just in case there are issues. Even without internet access, students can use their laptops to access their entire range of Office programs including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, etc. Most lessons do not rely entirely on internet access. There are also some classroom strategies such as the "Flipped Classroom" where the internet is not even used during class, but rather at home or after school.

Answer:

The district will be providing all of our High School teachers with two power strips per class with six connections each. Many teachers already have power strips in their classes and can use those as well to help charge student devices; Teachers may use these with students who have low or no charge laptops. We encourage all teachers to remind their students to bring their laptops charged every day. Campuses will also have posters that will remind students to charge their laptops nightly. Under normal use, the laptop batteries will last an entire day.

Answer:

Just like bandwidth, not all laptops will be charging at a single time, and each charge that does happen is considered a "trickle flow." We expect the largest load on electricity will be on deployment day when students plug in their computers for the first time. EPISD Facilities Department has checked all high schools and believe that the deployment classrooms can handle the increased electrical load.

Answer:

Some campuses have created “Charging Stations” in common areas, such as cafeterias and libraries that students can access during lunch, before or after school. Campuses might also use rooms that have large numbers of electrical outlets, such as classes that were former computer labs and science labs. Our research with other districts who have had 1:1 initiatives have concluded that power is virtually a non-issue over time.

Answer:

All of the new teacher laptops have HDMI connectors, not the older VGA connector. The district will be providing an HDMI to VGA connector to all teachers. Teachers should have received an email explaining the situation during the week of August 16, 2015.

Answer:

Each laptop will have a "Campus PowerUp" sticker with the student's name on it. We encourage teachers to make sure students do not peel the stickers off their devices.

Answer:

Although we expect our students to follow their signed Responsible Use Agreement (RUA) at all times when using their laptops, we understand that there will be students that will try to test the boundaries of behavior. Student laptops use the same filters that are employed when they are on the EPISD network on campus. We have taken measures to "lock down" quite a bit of what a student can and cannot do with their laptops. That being said, inappropriate behavior with the devices and online is a classroom and campus discipline issue and should be dealt with appropriately.

Answer:

All student laptops that are lost or stolen should be immediately reported to campus administration as per the Student Responsible Use Agreement (RUA) and to EPISD Police Services. Laptops are treated much like textbooks and when one is damaged, lost or stolen, they will report to the campus book room for immediate replacement. In some cases, a student may have to pay for damages or loss as per the RUA.

Answer:

Use of any digital device at any time is completely up to the classroom teacher. EPISD encourages teachers to look for ways to smartly integrate technology into lessons, and professional development is ongoing on various strategies. Teachers will be given an easy-to-understand “Stoplight” poster that they can use in their classes to let their students know if they will be using technology in class that day. Remember, technology is a tool, not a learning outcome. Use the appropriate tool for the appropriate learning outcome.

Answer:

Students and parents may decide to opt-out of using a district laptop, and instead bring their own device (BYOD). There may be a variety of reasons for this, including familiarity with their own device or not wanting the responsibility of a device that they do not own. The rules for using a BYOD device are similar to those for the PowerUp laptops. There are more BYOD FAQs on episd.org/PowerUp under the TECH icon.

Answer:

Some programs that the district are putting into place are replacing older, outdated ones. For instance, Silverback/Gooru is the new learning management system (LMS) that will replace the old Eduphoria LMS. Some programs are part of the High School laptop or districtwide Office 365 rollout. The district does not expect you to know every single Office 365 program, however, you probably know Word, Excel and PowerPoint already. Most of the new curriculum has been stored online in Office 365 Sites.

Teachers should be aware of the presence of the all of the Office 365 programs, what is on your student's laptops, have a general idea of the new tools available to your students and direct students toward appropriate tools. These tools will become a part of teacher's professional learning and will be used in PLCs. Just as a symphony conductor does not have to know how to play every single instrument in the orchestra, a teacher does not need to be an expert in every single Office 365 program. They just need to be able to direct their students to the appropriate tool for the appropriate task. Professional development will be held on an ongoing basis on all of these tools. Teachers are also encouraged to explore the tools on their own and share their learning with colleagues.

Answer:

As classroom teacher, you have final say on whether your students use technology or not. However, there are some classes where the textbook is online, or there are technology embedded components of particular lessons. If you are a teacher in classes with digital textbooks, you have already been trained on the digital text. If you need additional training, contact your Content Facilitator, your Instructional Technology Specialist, your Active Learning Leader, or check the EPISD Staff Development calendar for opportunities to improve your comfort level with educational technology.

Answer:

High school teachers were shown an introductory classroom management video at the recent “EPISD Connects” training. Training is ongoing, and if you were unable to get professional development on classroom management of digital devices, please check with your Instructional Technology Specialist. All teachers are encouraged to keep abreast of all staff development offerings that include digital device classroom management. Campus and district PLC's will also incorporate digital classroom management of devices for teachers and digital citizenship for students throughout the year.

Answer:

In many cases, the CK12 Flexbooks were created as a resource for students to use in class to experience material in new and engaging ways, and not simply as a replacement for paper texts. Thus, not all of the CK12 texts have a teacher “answer sheet” edition. Just as many digital resources do not have a true “teacher edition” the Flexbooks are part of a teacher’s overall toolbox for their class. Math, for instance, has answers to key problems in the Flexbook, but not necessarily all problems. Contact your Content Facilitator for additional information about how your digital text is used.

Answer:

PowerUp is a districtwide program that is for all grade levels. The overall essence of PowerUp is about "powering up" our classrooms by providing students with active learning and relevant lessons. Technology is one of many tools that can be used in the classroom. The large scale programs like student laptops and the digital textbooks are mostly high school specific, but BYOD and other programs such as SilverBack/Gooru are at all grade levels. For more info, check out http://episd.org/powerup.

Answer:

No. Active Learning is not just about technology. Teachers are encouraged to integrate technology when and where appropriate. Personalized staff development will be ongoing to help teachers implement various methods.

Answer:

32GB total storage - enough to store the digital textbooks, operating systems and some files. All students and teachers will have access to FREE Microsoft 365, which essentially has unlimited Cloud storage in OneDrive. Students can also add an additional SD card on the side of their laptop to increase the amount of local storage. These completely optional cards are available online, at any electronic store, or at large retail discount stores.

Answer:

We want our students to be future ready. Part of that readiness means being able to use the tools that they will experience in future jobs and in college studies. The district has been playing catch up in educational technology for our students for many years. The district has committed itself to making Active Learning and technology integration a priority.

Answer:

If you are using laptops and expressed to students that they need to bring them to class, then failure to bring the laptop on a regular basis is a classroom management issue, just as chronically failing to bring any essential materials to class is a management issue. (If a student does not bring a laptop over a period of time, it might be lost or stolen. We suggest allowing no more than three days without a device when called for before contacting parents.) The district will also conduct periodic, unannounced "spot checks" on all devices to ensure the devices have been properly cared for. In the event that a students does not have their laptop during the "spot check", a notice will be sent home to the parents requesting the student to bring in their device to the campus bookroom to verify the laptop is still functional and has not been damaged, lost or stolen.


FAQ: Office 365


Answer:

Office 365 is a suite of services offered free to all EPISD students and staff. The suite includes the online versions of the most popular Microsoft Office products: Word, Excel and PowerPoint. In addition, OneDrive offers unlimited storage space for all types of file storage. OneNote, an online note taking program is designed for anyone to create notebooks in all courses or topics, and can never be lost. In addition, our staff has access to the group discussion site Yammer.com. A very interesting digital storytelling program called SWAY is also included and a super PowerPOint add on called "Office Mix" are just a few of the new tools!

Answer:

Office 365 is free for all EPISD teachers and administrators as long as they are employed in EPISD. The cost is part of the enterprise agreement the District has with Microsoft.

Answer:

Along with the online versions of these programs, participants receive five free licenses for the full Office Suite of programs that can be downloaded onto personal computers at home, both PC and Mac.

Additional programs and features are continuously added to the Microsoft Office Suite, so users should check periodically to see what has been added.

Answer:

The downloaded version is the "full" version, and has some additional functionality not found on the online versions. However, the online version has enough functionality for the vast majority of users.

Answer:

One of the major advantages of the online version is that documents can easily be shared online, and can be worked on collaboratively with multiple users. This is particularly useful if teachers or administrators are involved in a group project. Teachers could work collaboratively online, and not have to physically be in the same place.

Answer:

There is no limit. This document that you are reading right now is stored in Office 365 and publically shared. Hopefully thousands of interested people are reading it simultaneously.

Answer:

Go to http://portal.office.com Use your complete EPISD email as your username and your EPISD password as your password. Students have a slightly different username/password combo which they can get from their teachers.

Answer:

No, Office 365 is available to all of our students and employees.

Answer:

Yes. Simply download the Apps (in your Office 365 portal) and use the iPad or iPhone versions. You can also use Android versions as well. You can also access http://portal.office.com from any browser on iOS or Android devices.

Answer:

Yes. Office 365 is an online service, and as such, needs an internet connection. However, you can work offline on your laptop version of Office and then save or sync to your OneDrive later.

Answer:

No. OneDrive offers unlimited storage. You can save files from year to year and access them whenever you need to.

Answer:

Yes. However the student login is slightly different. The student's teachers can share the login and password information with the student.

Answer:

As with any service online, you should practice safe internet usage. Don't share your password with anyone. Don’t let other log on as you.

Answer:

You only need to back up your files if you are planning on leaving EPISD. As long as you are an EPISD employee, your files on your OneDrive are secure.

Answer:

Check and make sure you are connected to the internet. For the most part, Office 365 will not be "down." Typically, the main reason for failure to log in is a poor internet connection. If you are repeatedly denied access, contact the EPISD Technology Helpdesk. helpdesk@episd.org

Answer:

OneNote is a digital note taking program that allows you to save your notes online. Notes from staff meetings, professional development sessions and more. You will never lose a notebook again. Here is a nice overview: http://bit.ly/15uLuqW There is also an app just for you to use with your classes call Class Notebook. See your Instructional Technology Specialist for more information on how to use this program.

Answer:

As with all school-related activities and tools, employees are expected to use Office 365 correctly and professionally and to abide by the Employee Code of Conduct. Abusing your account, or using someone else's account could lead to you losing access to your Office 365 account.

Answer:

PowerUp is an ever changing, ever evolving program designed to help our students be prepared for their future. As such, there are new programs, new trainings, and new bits of information being added all the time. The district will work hard to make sure that all of our stakeholders are informed in a timely manner about any changes.


FAQ: Teacher Questions


Answer:

In the EPISD Responsible Use Agreement, students are prohibited from possessing, sending, accessing, posting, or displaying electronic content that is abusive, obscene, sexually oriented, threatening, harassing, damaging to another's reputation, for illegal; this prohibition also applies to conduct off school property if it results in a substantial disruption to the educational environment, whether the equipment used to send such messages is a PowerUp device or BYOD device.

Answer:

A desirable outcome of Power Up would indeed be the reduction of paper copies in classrooms. Principals will need to see this in reality before removing copy machines, but the experience over time should be positive and will be a campus decision.

Answer:

There is no "set" amount of computer use that is mandated by the district. Some classes, such as those with digital textbooks, might have more use than say a PE or Art class. It is up to the teacher to decide and also for the campus to work on as well. the District is providing the tools for the students that can theoretically be used in every single class that they are taking.

Answer:

The district has repeatedly stated that teachers should use the amount of technology that they are comfortable with. However, some classes, such as the core areas which have digital textbooks, require students and teachers to be using the digital tools that have been made available specifically for their classes. Everyone is at a different level of technical knowledge. Training and tools will be provided to everyone to move them up from their current level of knowledge, wherever they are starting from.

Answer:

Professional development is an integral part of the PowerUp program in EPISD. Every single program that will be introduced as part of PowerUp will have a professional development component. The goal is how to use tools with their classes, and to move away from the old style "drive by training" where teachers receive PD once, and never hear from trainers again. Part of that PD involves the campus Active Learning Leaders as well as the Instructional Technology Specialists. Training will be ongoing and sustained. Some may be face-to-face, some may be online, come may be a blended mix.

Answer:

Mr. Cabrera and leadership have stated on multiple occasions that no teacher is expected to become an expert in technology integration overnight. Teachers are expected to start at their level, learn at their own pace, and also to collaborate with colleagues on new techniques. Seek out professional development opportunities. Principals have also been made aware of what to expect when the technology is rolled out. That being said, technology integration in the classroom is not that much different that using any new teaching technique. We encourage teachers to try new technology integration techniques, and if there are issues, they should seek out additional help from district trainers.

Answer:

The Responsible Use Agreement prohibits electronic bullying of any kind. The agreement specifically stats: "Students may not engage in any form of online bullying..."

Answer:

Thomas Jefferson said "Whenever you do a thing, act as if all the world were watching." In today's digital world, students can not only record lectures but the entire class period, not just with their laptops but also with their smartphones or MP3 players as well. Students should always ask permission to record, and teachers need to make clear to students that recording without their knowledge is unacceptable. According to the Responsible Use Policy, signed by every student and parent with a PowerUp device or BYOD, students cannot record any portion of an active classroom without the teacher's consent (Sections 11-14). Failure to adhere to that rule can result in students losing their PowerUp privileges.

Answer:

The bookroom clerk will be distributing laptops after the initial deployment. The "PowerUp Room" from which laptops are dispensed may or may not be the bookroom itself, but the issuing person is the bookroom clerk.

Answer:

Any program that is vetted by an academic department of the District (e.g., Academics) will be pushed out to the student laptops, assuming there's space available on the limited hard drive.

Answer:

As long as the standards and goals of the lesson are met, the district does not limit a teachers to only using the district written lessons. The district is providing tools for all teachers to individualize lessons for all students. Teachers may use these tools as they are tied to assessment tools and might make individualization and interventions easier.

Answer:

Laptops should be treated like any other class supply such as notebooks, pens, or textbooks. However, if a student fails to bring a laptop over three or more days, we urge teachers to call home and ask if the laptop has been lost or stolen.

Answer:

We will deploy LightSpeed in October, giving teachers and students the time to adjust to the new environment.

Answer:

Each high school campus has a dedicated technician who will resolve those issues.

Answer:

Because technicians are stationed at the campus the response time should be measured in minutes. Resolution time for problems will vary by the nature of the problem.

Answer:

A software license is typically device agnostic, meaning that the install requirements should be the same for all devices.

Answer:

Each classroom has been verified that network is available, and all classrooms are monitored in the campus controller during implementation to verify that loads are being handled. However, the ultimate measure is responsiveness experienced by teachers and students. Issues with latency in a given classroom should be addressed with the campus technician.

Answer:

Yes, we have increased high school campus backbone capacity, connection from campus to central core, and connection from core to the Internet.

Answer:

Students that are off task during a lesson whether using technolgoy or not, are a classroom management issue and should be treated as such. The district offers specific professional development sessions that are dedicated to classroom management of electronic devices.

Answer:

Yes, we will be deploying Lightspeed in October for that purpose. Lightspeed can be installed on a student's own device, but you cannot require it.

Answer:

Every room has its own wireless capacity. Computer labs are typically hard wired and don't use wireless at all, so the scenario doesn't seem likely. But in no case should a classroom have to defer to another classroom for network connectivity.

Answer:

The wireless internet connection is always EPISD SECURE, regardless of the device. Students always log on with a user ID and password.

Answer:

Teacher laptops have virus protection that scans email and attachments. It is not foolproof but it is a good level of protection. Email by itself is unlikely to spread a virus, but links and attachments certainly can.

Answer:

Yes, just as you would for students that did not bring any assigned materials to class, you may assign alternative work as long as it is meeting the requirements of the lesson.

Answer:

Damaged or broken laptops should be reported to the bookroom clerk, who will issue a loaner laptop for the repair time. The Responsible Use Agreement includes a schedule of repair fees.

Answer:

Private insurance is available, including an extension of your homeowners insurance. The District does not offer this.

Answer:

No, no student nor family is required to accept a laptop.

Answer:

The student laptop has GPS tracking capability that will locate it in case of loss or theft. A loaner laptop will be available while it is being recovered. If it is not recovered the family is responsible for the total cost.

Answer:

The District-issued laptop continues the same protections as provided within the District network, regardless of what network the laptop is connected to.

Answer:

No, they are already controlled.

Answer:

Bullying of any type , whether face to face or on the internet, is not tolerated in EPISD. Any type of cyberbullying should be reported to the campus administration immediately.

Answer:

There are several options: Students may wish to access the school's wifi either before or after school. All El Paso public libraries as well as housing complexes have free wifi available. The district has also created a map of free wifi hotspots in the EPISD. The map is located here: http://episd.org/powerup/tech/freewifi.php


FAQ: DPVILS


Answer:

The DPVILS program is part of the US Dep’t of Education challenge, known as ConnectED, to technology companies across the US to help bridge the digital divide between those areas and communities where students have readily available access to digital resources and those that do not. The Verizon Foundation, in this case, has donated a substantial number of iPads with 24/7 connectivity to campuses and districts that qualify under the guidelines of the grant

Answer:

Each of the five EPISD middle school campuses that received the grant (Armendariz, Bassett, Charles, Henderson, and Morehead will receive from Digital Promise and the Verizon Foundation iPads for all teachers, administrators and students. These devices all have 24/7 connectivity, so students will be able to work on academic assignments that require internet access from any location that has a Verizon cellular connection. In addition, teachers and administrators at each campus will receive specialized professional development on how to integrate these devices into lessons. For many of our students and families, this will be the first computer the family has ever had.

Answer:

You can learn all about not only EPISD but all other campuses and districts that are part of the program by clicking here.

Answer:

Each campus will have a celebratory rollout of their devices where students and parents can come and pick up their devices. Parents, as well as students, will be asked to sign paperwork on the specifics of the program, use of the devices, and restrictions that are part of the program. (You can read about some of the restrictions below.) Check with your campus for the exact times and dates.

Answer:

Yes! When students are not near a wifi signal, the devices will switch over to Verizon Wireless 4G LTE signal.

Answer:

Yes. There will be opportunities for parents at all campuses to learn not only how to use the devices with their children, but also on how to stay safe online.

Answer:

Parents are the campus’ eyes and ears when students are away from school. Parents should help to make sure students come to school every day with a fully charged device, that students are using these mainly for academic purposes and that students are using them wisely at home. Parents are also expected to help make sure that the device is not lost or stolen , left in a car, or playground.

Answer:

We suggest that parent designate an official “Charging Station” area at home. Kitchens or living rooms make good charging station areas. Every night before a student goes to bed, they plug their device in so it charges overnight and is ready the next morning.

Answer:

Each iPad comes with a drop-proof case that while rugged, is not designed to withstand ANY type of drop for any height. However, it should be able to withstand a drop of several feet onto a hard surface. The iPad comes with a charger and a cable. If a parent wishes to purchase an additional accessory for the iPad, they can do so.

Answer:

We treat the iPads like we treat textbooks or other instructional materials that students are allowed to use, such as musical instruments, or football uniforms. If a device is broken, depending on the damage, the parents are responsible for the cost of repairs as outlined in the signed Responsible Use Agreement.

Answer:

No, the district does not offer insurance. However, a parent’s homeowner’s insurance may cover the device, and there are third party companies that offer insurance. The district is working on getting a list of third party insurance providers for parents.

Answer:

As soon as a device is lost or stolen, it must be reported to the campus administrator as well as to the police. Once a report is filed on a stolen device, the device will be remotely disabled and will not be usable in any form.

Answer:

Depending on availability of replacement devices and other factors such as the number of times a device is broken, lost or stolen, your child will receive a replacement device. However, please be advised that there are limited number of Verizon iPads available.

Answer:

The device your child is receiving is mainly an academic device, for use to help your child with school assignments. Essentially, the rules that apply for use at school via the Responsible Use Agreement (RUA) that both parents and students signed, are the rules that apply at home.

Answer:

No, you may opt out of the Verizon Program for your child. However, there will be assignments that will require your child to use the device in order to complete. In those cases, the campus will supply your child with an appropriate device.

Answer:

Yes, the devices use a content filtering system that is linked to the EPISD content filter system. Although we try very hard to keep the system up to date, no system is 100% fool proof. That is why we ask parents to help us monitor their children when they are not at school.

Answer:

The only apps a student will be able to add to their device are ones that are provided through the “Self Service” app. Remember; these are academic devices.

Answer:

Certainly! Any family member or friend can use the device, however, the student takes full responsibility for the device when sharing.

Answer:

All students in EPISD have access to Atomic Learning, which provides 24/7 online training on a variety of topic, including iPads. To log in simply go to: https://atomiclearning.com/login/episd


Revised: September 8, 2015