Magazine article District Administration

Helping Educators Manage It All: More K12 Educators Are Relying on Software to Help Run Their Districts, Teach Curricula, and Protect Vital Information

Magazine article District Administration

Helping Educators Manage It All: More K12 Educators Are Relying on Software to Help Run Their Districts, Teach Curricula, and Protect Vital Information

Article excerpt

MORE THAN EVER, school district management is aided by software, and many administrators nominated programs that have helped them run their districts. Many have been able to implement large, district-level management software applications that have replaced the use of smaller programs from multiple companies, often reducing or eliminating large amounts of paperwork, as well as costs and procedural headaches. New management software has aided education administration at the classroom, school, district and even state levels, helping administrators both to streamline existing operations and accomplish new tasks. What was once spread out across an array of school divisions and functions is becoming increasingly centralized.

Destiny Resource Management Solution from Follett Software, for example, is a comprehensive suite of programs including Asset, Textbook and Media managers to help classrooms and the district as a whole keep track of resources and function more efficiently. Weidenhammer's alio 8.3 software suite is designed to run all administrative tasks for a district, including payroll, human resources and finance management, allowing administrators to budget, monitor and control their finances. Such comprehensive software programs have helped many administrators manage their districts more efficiently and effectively. And at the classroom level, management software such as SynchronEyes from SMART Technologies and NetSupport's School 9 have helped teachers to monitor every computer in a class, keeping their students focused on learning and commanding their attention if they get distracted.

Curriculum Programs

While management may be the "it" word of the day for software, readers also nominated a variety of classroom curriculum programs, which are still alive and well and helping to get students excited about learning and raising their achievement levels. Tom Snyder's FASTT Math, PLATO Learning's Achieve Now, Voyager's VMath, and the new electives available from the American Education Corporation all emphasize themes of customized learning, interactivity, online platforms and collaboration.

One such district using FASTT Math and seeing outstanding results is Sandusky City (Ohio) Schools, which has been using the software for the past three years in its six elementary schools. "All of our students, no matter where they started, have made gains with FASTT Math," says district math coach Ann Van Nort. "Teachers are noticing a big improvement in the number of facts known and the fast recall of those facts in the classroom." Keith Pertusio, principal of Ganado (Ariz.) Intermediate School, agrees: "Our students' basic math fact fluency has greatly improved with this fun and tailored computer program."

Taking a "Virtual" Approach

Virtualization software such as VMware's Fusion received a number of nominations. These products can reduce the number of servers for a district, simplify computer infrastructures, and make upgrades easier and less expensive. "Virtualizing servers has decreased our number of servers from 20 to three and allows for better management and data backup for disaster recovery," says Nancy Toll, technology director at the Hudson (Wis.) School District. Interestingly, while many analysts believe these programs have the potential to revolutionize district computing, the technology is so new that software companies are still sorting out issues such as licensing agreements, since virtual desktop infrastructures can enable thousands of computers to use a single software product.

In addition, many administrators nominated security and virus protection programs such as Norton AntiVirus, which their districts continue to require to prevent virus attacks and block unauthorized entry, since the more district operations depend on software, the more important it is to protect their systems. And the 2006 federal mandates requiring e-mail availability in legal proceedings have made e-mail archiving programs like M+Archive from Messaging Architects vital to nearly every school and district, which need to access all past correspondence quickly when needed. …

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