Sunday, June 15, 2008

KySTE Summer Conference

I attended the KySTE (Kentucky Society for Technology in Education) conference this past week and decided to post this week about the conference and some sessions I attended.

The conference as a whole was extremely successful. As a member of the board of directors, I was proud to see the quality of sessions, large vendor turnout as well as attendees. We had three quality guest speakers - Greg Palmer, Executive Director for MAGPI (; Mike Ribble, co-author of Digital Citizenship (; and Kentucky Education Commissioner Jon Draud. Each of these guest speakers provided excellent insight into their specific area and how it impacts K-12.

I was also able to attend breakout sessions and wanted to highlight a few of them:

SAN, Jody Rose - Dell
This session provided an overview of SAN (Storage Area Networks) and the pieces and components to make this happen in districts. The session also covered several of the acronyms associated with SANs. My district is currently in the process of consolidating and virtualizing our 25+ servers back to 3 devices. I found this session extremely informative and beneficial.

The Technology Challenge, Mark Weston - Dell
This session was conducted by Mark Weston - who is an education strategist with Dell. Mark is an excellent speaker/presenter and an innovator in the education community. Mark discussed groundbreaking technology initiatives in the education world. His ideas require schools and districts to break the existing pedagogy in our "modern education" and begin a shift towards innovative, ground breaking instruction.

I highly encourage any leader in the K-12 environment to seek out those who have had the privilege of listening to Mr. Weston and gather their opinions as well. Mr. Weston is the quality speaker that all district leaders need to hear and apply in their day-to-day jobs.

Web2.CIO, Bret Foster - CIO, Anderson County Schools
This session was two parts - one was about a CIO's experience using nothing but open source applications to do his job over a one month period. The second was about the various Web 2.0 tools and applications that are available to assist in communication and collaboration.

The first part Mr. Anderson discussed how he used products such as Ubuntu, Open Office, Thunderbird and Firefox to do his job as a CIO in a KY school district. Mr. Anderson admitted there were some difficult bumps along the way and his overall experience was less than desired. He did note that he felt within 12-18 months users could use these tools on a day-to-day basis without interruption or lack of quality in service.

The second part was my personal favorite. Mr. Anderson shared the Web 2.0 tools he had compiled ( and how they assisted not only in professional life, but personal as well. I was already using a few of these applications, but many I had never heard of. I have already installed and tested Diigo, ANIMOTO and Twiddla. I highly recommend you viewing the site above for an excellent collection of Web 2.o tools applicable to K-12.

802.11n Wireless, Jonathan Kidwell - Enterasys Networks
This session was presented by a Engineer with Enterasys Networks on the new wireless standard that has recently become available. 802.11n provides faster speeds (previous "g" speeds were 54/mbps and the "n" promises speeds near 500/mbps, while the real-world says it is seeing 100-140/mbps.)

For my district which has deployed a complete wireless infrastructure in all 12 buildings, the major benefit is we can utilize our existing hardware and infrastructure, only having purchase the additional 802.11n access points. We can also utilize the meshing feature where the 802.11n APs can communicate with the existing wired APs via their radios, thus allowing us to avoid the additional cost of wiring.

Overall the KySTE conference was a huge success and one of the most beneficial conferences I have attended in my four years as a CIO. I highly encourage all who are educators, administrators and technology leaders to plan on attending this conference next year.


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