SPRING 2010 VOLUME 2010 â€˘ ISSUE 2
THEME FOR THIS ISSUE: Customer Service Teachers as Their Own Best Customer Service Providers Continuous Improvement with PDCA What is IT Customer Service in an Education Setting? CETPA Call for Speakers
A Look At Our Customers PAID
PRST.STD. U.S. POSTAGE
PERMIT NO. 2840 SACRAMENTO, CA
and How Best to Serve Them
TABLE OF CONTENTS
California Educational Technology Professionals Association
Spring 2010 | Volume 2010 | Issue 2
ARTICLES 6 President’s Message By Dr. Kelly Calhoun
8 Best Practices By Phil Scrivano
10 Who Are Our Customers? By Martha Robrahn
14 Teachers as Their Own Best Customer Service Providers By Renee Ramig
18 CETPA Call for Speakers 20 CUE View: A Primer: Technology Leader’s Professional Learning Committee 2.0 By Tim Landeck
22 Continuous Improvement with PDCA By DeWayne Cossey
24 Supporting Macs in a Windows World By Frank Callaham
25 Consulting in an E-rate World By Robert Rivera
26 Legislative Update By Dr. Jeffrey Frost
28 Member Profile
A Chat with Steve Thornton
30 Resource Guide and Ad Index
Databus is the official publication of the California Educational Technology Professionals Association (CETPA). Databus is published four times a year as a service to our members and information technology managers for California’s K-12 school system. The CETPA and the Databus assume no responsibility for the statements or opinions appearing in articles under an author’s name. The services of an attorney or accountant should be sought in legal and tax matters. All rights to the materials and editorial content of Databus are reserved. All copyrights and trademarks are property of their respective owners. Reproduction or use in whole or part without the permission by CETPA is prohibited.
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Spring 2010 • DataBus 5
BOARD OF DIRECTORS PRESIDENT
This (50th) Year for CETPA By Dr. Kelly Calhoun, CETPA President
Dr. Kelly Calhoun, Chief Technology Officer Santa Clara County Office of Education 1290 Ridder Park Drive San Jose, CA 95131
Stephen Carr, Executive Director, Technology Services
Ventura County Office of Education 5189 Verdugo Way Camarillo, CA 93012 PAST PRESIDENT
L. Russ Brawn, Chief Operations Officer FCMAT/CSIS 770 L Street, Suite 1120 Sacramento, CA 95814 TREASURER
Terrell Tucker, Director of Information & Technology Services
Panama-Buena Vista Union School District 4200 Ashe Road Bakersfield, CA 93313 SECRETARY
Gregory W. Lindner, Technology Services Director
Elk Grove Unified School District 9510 Elk Grove-Florin Road Elk Grove, CA 95624 EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
915 L Street #C424 Sacramento, CA 95354 DIRECTOR OF PUBLICATIONS
Tim Goree, Director of Technology Services Norris School District 6940 Calloway Drive Bakersfield, CA 93312
DIRECTORS AT LARGE
Sandra Ching, Director of Information Services Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District 1301 Orangethorpe Avenue Placentia, CA 92870
Todd Finnell, Chief Executive Officer, CA K-12 High Speed Network Imperial County Office of Education 1398 Sperber Road El Centro, CA 92243
Dr. Carl Fong, Information Technology Executive Director
Orange County Department of Education 200 Kalmus Drive Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Oswaldo A. Galarza, Director of Technology Services
San Juan Unified School District 3738 Walnut Avenue Carmichael, CA 95608
Wade Williams, Director of Network Services Stanislaus County Office of Education 1100 H Street Modesto, CA 95354
No longer just a loosely grouped cadre of “data processors,” today’s CETPA members stretch across a spectrum of roles as broad and diverse as technology itself.
ajor milestones, like special anniversaries, bring a natural desire to pause and reflect on what has passed and what is to come. It’s naturally that way for the board and the membership of CETPA as we celebrate our 50th year of existence. Like all opportunities to look back and reflect, this one presents many possible angles of view: the changes in technology in the last 50 years, the radical changes in the role of technology in education—these have dramatically redefined our roles in leadership and support within our own organizations. Tracking along with all those changes has brought change, growth and maturity in CETPA as an organization redefining itself around those we serve. The scope of CETPA’s role today is so much broader than at anytime in year’s past. No longer just a loosely grouped cadre of “data processors,” today’s CETPA members stretch across a spectrum of roles as broad and diverse as technology itself. Technology leaders, along with experts in educational technologies, networking, PC support, data administration, web development and support, and so much more, join together as a professional community that really is like no other. That open culture of collaboration and support for each other has surely served to move us all forward much faster than we would have going it alone. It’s in this spirit that I do what every CETPA president has done before me: take on the task of establishing goals for the organization this year. I do so while following in the footsteps of our amazing Past President Russ Brawn, a man for whom I have such professional respect and admiration. I look forward to having his counsel and the benefit of his many years of history with CETPA to help light the path. Here are a few of the things I would like to make some forward progress on this year:
Maximizing Services of Value to Members
The CETPA board would like to identify which services our members find are the highest value (whether we deliver them now or not) and focus on aligning our efforts with ensuring we deliver those. We know, for example, that many of our members highly value our listserv as an easy method for quickly sharing ideas and advice with others. What other communications methods might we want to make available for the future? How might this influence our website and the redesign of services delivered there? What kind of training or support opportunities might be valuable? There are endless possibilities. We would like to know more about what you think. We’re developing an online survey in the hopes of getting that feedback. continued on page 29
6 DataBus • Spring 2010
What is IT Customer Service in an Education Setting?
C Phil Scrivano
Can you explain the technology reasons you have for giving a negative response in plain, nontechnical words? nnn
8 DataBus • Spring 2010
ustomer service should be on the mind of every person in education technology. Our customers are unique in the technology industry because we work in complex education settings. Who are our primary customers and what level of service should each group receive? At CETPA we have pondered these questions for as long as IT has been growing in education. When I first joined CETPA, I had the opportunity to talk with some of the long-standing members. In CETPA’s early years, our primary mission was business related. We used to have the word “Data” in our name. When the Internet started to travel to the classroom via 2400 US Robotics modems and Gopher searches started to influence curriculum, our world changed. I read a new acronym this week that made me think of these Gopher searches. The acronym was “BG,” which stands for “Before Google.” When I read this, I thought about Alta Vista first, then remembered those first text-based searches on earthquakes we did in the classroom. Our customers today are teachers, students, parents, administrators, administrative support employees, school board members, business departments (data), and just about everyone who works for the district. How we respond to each of these groups is just as important as being correct on a technical issue. Customer service is exactly this: our response to customers. One group this is most evident with is our college-educated and credentialed teachers. A teacher has the responsibility to be the educational leader in the classroom. Inside the classroom, the teacher must quickly respond to students’ learning needs with the best information available. When this same teacher has a technology question, need, request or demand of an IT staff member, they expect the same level of responsiveness. If your IT leader or any other IT person on staff responds to a teacher with a “no” or challenges the legitimacy of a request, your customer service ratings instantly go down. You may be absolutely correct in asserting your position, but the teacher now sees you as unwilling to help. When presented with this situation, the best practice is to think for a moment. Can you explain the technology reasons you have for giving a negative response in plain, nontechnical words? Try to meet the teacher’s need, as a professional, in responding. For example, start by stating, “I want to help you with this request. Please help me understand it better because I may have some concerns I will need to deal with on the technical side.” With this approach you are not challenging the teacher’s educational expertise, and you are sending the message that “we are on the same team.” Your boss or other administrative customer may
have entirely different technology needs from those of a teacher, but the same customer service approach of a positive attitude and non-technical language applies. In 2010, our field is still young at about 30 years old. How does this compare to the field of math, feeding students, or providing busing services? Your technical knowledge often will be much greater than that of other people in your organization. If you can provide clear, simple explanations, you will be perceived as really knowing your stuff. If, on the other hand, the people you are talking to give you that glazed-over look of confusion, you have lost a professional ally. I once hired a technician who demonstrated such great customer service skills that even, on the rare occasion an issue was brought to my attention, the teacher would always start the conversation by protecting Doug. What was his secret? First, he treated everyone as a professional. He would take care of the issue. If the teacher was not present, he would leave a note explaining the tasks he had performed, along with a couple of pieces of hard candy. Later, he would call the teacher and ask if everything was okay. Doug is still a hero to his customers today. Students are unique customers. We all will likely feel humbled at some point by how sharp some kids are and how a piece of technology we helped with brought curriculum to life for a struggling student. Most students today take technology for granted, but have high expectations of reliability and speed. Listening to the needs of students and asking simple questions will give you valuable feedback about your service to this group. Example questions are, “Is our Internet at school faster than your home connection?” And, “Is our Internet filtering working well for you?” Customer service is also essential when working with school board members. Remember to inform your immediate supervisor regarding your work for this group. The same is true in working with parents. Each of these groups has direct access to the superintendent. The customer service aspect of this is to try to minimize surprises for your supervisor and superintendent. As an IT leader your customer service rating is dependent on every person in your department. One last best practice is to be aware of who is the initial person who answers to your customers either by phone, e-mail or work order system. If this person is well respected in the district and is consistently courteous, your ability to serve your customers well is half done. Phil Scrivano is Vice President of Customer Services for Lightspeed Systems. He can be reached at (661) 716-7600 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who Are Our Customers?
W By Martha Robrahn
Working in a small district makes me very aware of all the different customers we have.
hen the focus of customer service came up as a theme for DataBus, it reminded me once again of how different our views of a customer must be from the traditional one. Typically, a customer is someone to whom you want to sell something. I worked in the “real world” for many years as a field system engineer for HP. My customers were those who purchased our large and often expensive computer systems, and to whom I supplied presales system configurations, post-sales consulting services, taught training classes, and provided direct phone support. My salary was based on my performance, and my customers’ satisfaction level had a very direct impact on this. Teamwork was valued and expected at all levels. Making the best decisions for the long-term financial stability of the company was a priority. Fast forward a decade or so. I find myself working in the “unreal world” of IT at a government agency, specifically a school district. Here, fiefdoms develop and teamwork is not even on the performance evaluation criteria. In lean years, we are told not to spend money. Then when spring comes, we are instructed to blow the rest of the budget quickly. Once past the first evaluation period, it no longer matters if your customers are happy or not because it will not affect your salary one bit. Having ventured into this strange realm, I had to decide how to proceed with my ethics and self-respect
intact. Making the best long-term financial decisions is still a priority. Working with people to ensure success is still relevant. Having happy customers is still important; but who, exactly, are my customers now? The list is long and prioritizing them—not to mention keeping them all satisfied—is a challenge. Working in a small district makes me very aware of all the different customers we have.
General Staff From the district office personnel to the part-time janitor, coach or bus driver, these folks make up a diverse group. The knowledgeable ones can be demanding and others may be too timid to ask for help. Does every employee have an e-mail account (and know how to use it) and access to a computer? Or, are some still relegated to reading the superintendent’s edicts on the bulletin board? Can you say “no” or “later” as easily to a district office manager as you do to the lunch server?
Teachers Tech-savvy teachers will want to push beyond your knowledge and system limitations. Others will drag their feet when they are forced to make any new change in the way something has always been done. Here, the small fiefdoms and territoriality often begin since their students and their single classroom are their world. continued on page 12
10 DataBus • Spring 2010
Who are our Customers? continued from page 10
Principals often represent larger kingdoms. Have you ever tried to move a piece of district-owned equipment from one school to another and been looked at like you were a thief?
Have we spent more time limiting them rather than inspiring them to learn? How many students know your name or what you do, or have ever received direct help or even a hello and a smile from you?
Do we ever forget that we are here to educate the students? Have we made the best decisions to ensure their future success?
Are the parents of your students happy with your technology programs? Can they get what they need from your website? Do they receive notifications via e-mail and automated phone calling systems? Our high school parents appreciate that the laptops we send home with their students have limitations in how much time can be spent on the computer before it shuts itself down at “bedtime” or on the weekends.
Colleagues Those who work at county offices know that their colleagues at the local school districts are their customers. However, every time you answer a question on the CETPA listserv, do a talk at the CETPA conference, or respond to a colleague’s request, you have found a new customer. Thank you all for your help over the years. I remain a very satisfied customer of my colleagues. I could not do my job as an “IT Lone Ranger” without all of you.
Taxpayers Do we ever forget when we are spending their money that we are working for taxpayers?
Public The public wants to know what’s going on at your district. What efforts are being made to keep them informed? Our district is making a big push to market our schools to the public. Maybe we are in the business of selling something after all.
Martha Robrahn is the IT Specialist (jack of all trades for anything connected with wires) for the Chawanakee Unified School District in the foothills of the Sierras. Her strategy for staying sane is to head off to the woods during lunch (or at least leave the office). She can be reached at mrobrahn@ chawanakee.k12.ca.us.
12 DataBus • Spring 2010
Teachers as Their Own Best Customer Service Providers
By Renee Ramig
n an ideal world, every school would have a help desk with a “real” person available to respond to technology issues. If I am an English teacher and three of the laptops the students are using won’t print, I call the help desk. Someone comes running into my classroom with a red cape and instantly fixes the problem. As school districts find more ways to cut expenses, often technology support is on the chopping block. Rarely does a school have an onsite help desk that can respond to teacher needs when they really need the support. In reality, usually a centralized support team, or in some cases a single person, does its best to support all the schools in the district. The difficulty is that it is not helpful for the above English teacher to get help three days later. The essays were due that day. One way to help with this is to give teachers a set of skills and tools they can use to solve their own problems. These skills and tools need to be very easy and quick to use. The first step to take is to assess what teachers can do with the setup already on the school machines. Are the users local administrators or do they have limited access? Obviously, the skills and tools you give to the teachers need to match the access level they are given. Start by creating troubleshooting steps for the most common tech issues that teachers can solve based on their access level. Post these on a website. Also, use the “old-fashioned” paper-based method, and distribute these pages to teachers. Some of the common issues that teachers often need “immediate” help with are printing, sound and connectivity. Focus on these three areas first unless you have site specific issues that are more critical to address. Create simple how-to sheets. Include lots of screen shots on what things should look like. For example, take screen shots of what an Ethernet cable looks like along with the ports in the computer and wall where it plugs in. Don’t just say, “Make sure the Ethernet cable is firmly connected at both ends.” Another example is to take a picture of continued on page 16
14 DataBus • Spring 2010
Teachers continued from page 14
the port the speakers get plugged into, and then actually show a picture of the speakers plugged in. Don’t just say, “Make sure the speakers are plugged into the correct port.” Many teachers don’t know what a port is, let alone which one is the correct one. Be as focused as possible when creating troubleshooting steps. Teachers often do not understand the difference between hardware and software, printing issues, and connectivity. So, make sure troubleshooting steps really spell out with both words and pictures what the teachers are working with. Create troubleshooting documents to solve problems. Having a document entitled “Connectivity Problems” will almost never be accessed by teachers. Having one called “Problems Connecting to the Internet” will be very popular. Two of the biggest obstacles to helping teachers become their own best customer service providers are teacher buy-in and locked-down computers. Two things can help with teacher buy-in: administrative support and a core group of teachers working with the IT team. Administrative support will help encourage teachers to use
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the troubleshooting strategies when they have problems. A core teacher team helps to ensure the “techie terms” are taken out or clearly explained. These teachers can be models for how others can become their own best customer service providers. Ideally, this core group of teachers should be a non-techie group. If the only people working on this are “techies,” the process then takes longer. When possible, get teachers involved that have the most tech problems in the school. They will be motivated, and they will most likely be some of the least techie teachers. The second obstacle is often more difficult to deal with. The IT team often wants to lock down computers as much as possible to reduce problems. The problem with this is that it limits what a teacher can do to solve their own problems. If the IT team and the non-techie teachers can meet together and really talk, the teachers can let the IT team know what they want to be able to solve on their own. The IT team could work on changing the way computers and the network are set up to allow more teacher control. This means the IT team has to relinquish some control to teachers and that can be difficult. However, if the bottom-line goal is increased student learning and if giving teachers more control can improve this, then it makes sense to move in this direction. Renee Ramig is the Director of Technology for Seven Hills School in Walnut Creek, California. She is in her 27th year of working with teachers, students, technology, and how they all work together. Ramig regularly speaks at California educational technology conferences including CUE, Internet@Schools, California League of Middle Schools, and California Association of Independent Schools. She has had articles published in Technology and Learning Magazine, California Association of Independent Schools Magazine, and Multimedia at Schools. A past EBCUE Board member, she helped create the EBCUE annual Cool Tools Conference. Ramig has been the judging coordinator for the prestigous Technology and Learning Award of Excellence program for the past four years and loves helping teachers and students figure out technology. She can be reached at email@example.com.
CETPA Invites you to Participate in the 50th Anniversary Celebration “50 Years of Gold” …and we keep getting better! CETPA would like to invite you to help your fellow educators this year by creating our speaker sessions “50 Years of Gold.” This is your opportunity to share ideas, practices and solutions that can assist educational institutions. Submit your Speaker Registration at http://reg.cetpa-k12.org/pub/htdocs/2010-speaker-registration.html Please extend the invitation to any speaker who has information valuable to our membership or send us their name. If you or your group are planning a statewide event and would like to discuss joint sessions, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Select a one-hour or two-hour presentation. Breakout rooms can typically seat 40 to 50 conference attendees. Popular sessions can accommodate up to 80 attendees. A projector and Internet access will be provided. CETPA also offers roundtable discussions. If you have an idea for a roundtable, please submit it with suggestions of participants. If a vendor would like to sponsor a roundtable session where they construct the content, please indicate this on the registration form. Please use “Roundtable” as the first word in the title. This year CETPA will continue with its four strands of technical and educational knowledge: New Learning Environments
Secure, Reliable Infrastructure
Policy and Programs that Impact Education and Technology
Technology Tools for Education
(Student instructional technology used in the classroom.) (IT management, administrative application software and the support of federal and state requirements.)
(Hardware and software supporting the network and application software.) (Non-student instructional support in the classroom and other IT tools.)
We are very interested in hearing your experiences that you believe would benefit our attendees. Here are a few popular topics: • Classroom Technologies • Digital Curriculum • Distance Learning • Emerging Technologies • Business and Student IS • Cost Reduction Strategies • Integrated Data Management
• Federal and State Requirements • Managing Personnel Resources • Purchasing Options • Records Retention • Technology Strategies • Desktop Administration • Disaster Recovery
• Information and Network Security and Support • Networks • Open Source • Unified Communications • Virtualization • VPN Deployment
• Cloud Computing • Mobile Professionals • OS and Office Updates • Professional Learning • Student Assessment System • Web and Application Development Tools • Wireless Technology
Contact Sandy Ching, this year’s Speaker Chairperson, by e-mail at email@example.com if you cannot find the information you need on the CETPA website. Important: Preference will be given to applications received from educational agencies, followed by educational agencies partnering with an exhibitor (submitted by the educational agency) and then exhibitors. Room scheduling will be ongoing for educational agencies and begin August 1for exhibitors. Session topics as well as the date of submission may be used when scheduling. 18 DataBus • Spring 2010
A Primer: Technology Leader’s Professional Learning Community 2.0
I By Tim Landeck
t wasn’t very long ago that the technology leader first began to use online resources as the makeup of his/her professional learning community. FTP sites, BBS, Archie and Veronica were all online resources where technologyoriented people could virtually meet, collaborate, share ideas and learn from each other. As a fifth-grade teacher, I participated daily in a BBS (Bulletin Board Service) with my 1200 baud modem (slow!) and telephone line to collaborate with other educators on a variety of topics. Seeing the potential of this online community, I began my own BBS to support the education of students and staff on protecting the local Steelhead fish population. These resources, combined with e-mail and (soon) websites, helped to broaden my professional learning community well beyond anything possible only a few years prior. Professional Learning Communities 2.0 has made it possible for the technology leader (and others) to network and collaborate with an even broader spectrum of individuals, thereby opening up new forms of communication and alternative avenues for collaboration and learning. At this last CUE Conference in Palm Springs, Twitter (twitter.com) was the tool of choice for many to broaden the learning network and enable people to read a different perspective of an event, or to hear about happenings at a session that they were not able to attend. There were both solo accounts of activities and presentations along with discussion and collaboration about topics that formed some intriguing sessions. Prior to and even during the CUE conference, people were active on the CUE Community (community.cue. org) social networking site powered by Ning (www. ning.com). Ning is a social networking site like Facebook (www.facebook.com) and Myspace (www.myspace.com) where people interconnect with others, share resources, and interact about topics of interest. If these types of social networks are not quite “real” enough for you, then perhaps a virtual world such as Second Life (secondlife. com) would meet your community needs. There are universities and other organizations that house their own virtual communities on Second Life and plenty of learning takes place in this virtual world. Note that many school districts block social networking sites for both educational and security reasons, so access to these sites may need to be found from a different network connection than from your school site. Skype (www.skype.com) is a tool that can be used to collaborate orally (and visually) with individuals or small groups of people over an IP network. Similar to using a telephone on your computer, Skype offers a good audio connection over the Internet to someone else’s computer (or telephone, in some cases) and also offers the option to include video. iChat (www.apple.com/macosx/features/
20 DataBus • Spring 2010
ichat.html), a free and excellent tool for the Macintosh user, offers resources similar to Skype, but is limited to computer-to-computer communication. Of course, the use of text messaging to and from cellular phones helps with one-to-one communication but lacks group collaboration capabilities. If all of the above tools require you to be too available “in the moment” for synchronous communication, you can still expand your professional learning community with resources that don’t require you to be collaborating in real time. Websites have evolved that offer collaboration among like-minded individuals, such as TICAL, the Technology Information Center for Administrative Leadership (www.portical.org). TICAL is one of the SETS projects (Statewide Educational Technology Services). Another great SETS website for collaboration and information is TechSets (www.techsets.org) for people who support technology in schools—the geeks. A great way to categorize and combine Website resources is with tools such as iGoogle (www.google.com/ig) personal web pages, del. icio.us social bookmarking (www.delicious.com), and Digg (www.digg.com) editor-free website listing. In addition to these sites, other asynchronous professional learning community resources include blogs, wikis, and RSS feeds. Using tools that both search and aggregate these resources will help you to stay in the loop yet avoid information overload. Technorati (www.technorati.com) is a great search tool for blogs that will help you sort through resources and highlight the pieces of information that pertain to your interests. The Google Reader (www. google.com/reader) is a great tool to aggregate your RSS feeds, news, and blogs into one location. And, if wikis are your preferred method for collaboration and information gathering, don’t overlook Wikipedia (www.wikipedia. org) as an excellent example of a professional learning community. Of course, Wikipedia is not the end all of all wikis, so using a wiki search tool, such as wiki.com, will assist in locating and monitoring those wiki gems. Skim through a variety of resources and focus on the items that truly pertain to you and your professional growth goals. In this age of information overload, nobody can read all posts and participate in every community. However, be sure to investigate and try out these tools to help identify the resources that will improve your professional learning community, because we should never stop learning! Tim Landeck is Director of Technology Services of the Pajaro Valley Unified School District in Watsonville, California, a national conference presenter, and a consultant with various school districts nationwide. He can be reached at Tim_landeck@pvusd.net.
Continuous Improvement with PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act)
H By DeWayne Cossey
ave you ever had a project fall apart and die with no sign of life? Did you ever want to introduce a great idea and implement it, but not sure how? I am sure that most people reading this, including myself, have experienced a failure or two in their technology career. I would like to share the concept of continuous improvement with you. In four easy steps, you too can learn to improve any process or service. Caution! There are two requirements for leaders who plan to create an environment of continuous improvement.
Leadership should set the tone for the entire continuous improvement effort.
22 DataBus • Spring 2010
Requirement Number 1 Make sure you have the right attitude in good times and in bad. Having and maintaining a positive attitude can go a long way as you lead the charge to success. Leaders are the models for excellent customer service by providing win-win solutions and forming partnerships. Some customers may be wary of change. Your inner mindset might not be apparent at first, but it will come through in your actions and words.
Requirement Number 2 Acknowledge that you are going to make mistakes. On the “rare occasion” that you make a mistake, admit it and take ownership. Then, take a moment to reflect about how you could have resolved the issue more effectively. The bottom line is that mistakes are opportunities to learn and improve. In the continuous improvement environment, your mistakes can lead to service and process improvement. The concept of the cycle of continuous improvement, also known as PDCA, was developed in the 1930s, but was fully developed by W. Edwards Deming during the 1950s. PDCA became known as the Deming Cycle. It is a structured approach to effectively implementing any type of change effort. This can be applied to any project or process as a way to create an environment of constant improvement and learning. Step 1: Plan. This is often the most difficult and time-consuming step of the continuous improvement cycle. Planning is the task of defining your
customers and the services you will provide to them. Understanding who your customers are will help you to provide options that are specific to their needs. Defining the services you provide to customers will depend on several factors such as staffing, budget, and the established culture of the organization. Clearly defined services will help the customer to know what to expect from you as the service provider. It is critical for you to make sure you clearly define your goals and expectations during planning. I have also recently learned the importance of establishing groups of stakeholders to include in the planning process. In addition, to assist in your planning efforts, it can be helpful to compare the plan to the efforts of others who have gone before you. Step 2: Do. Doing is the act of the delivering the defined services to the customer. The details of the delivery of a specific service can be agreed upon through established service level agreements or simply a set of stated norms for the provided service. Step 3: Check. Checking can be achieved in a number of ways, through customer satisfaction surveys, analysis of reporting tools, meetings, or site visits. Step 4: Act. Take immediate action on issues found during the check process. This may involve setting new goals in the planning stage or re-evaluating the previous goals. Be an advocate for your customers, and move to correct issues on their behalf. They will thank you for it! In conclusion, leadership should set the tone for the entire continuous improvement effort. There has to be shared commitment from the staff that implement and support change. Training and coaching also play an important part in creating a lifelong culture of success and high performance. There is not a magic wand that will implement continuous improvement in an organization. The change begins with you: one leader at a time. DeWayne Cossey, Assistant Director of Technology, Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified is a Certified Chief Technology Officer and has a Bachelor of Science in Technology Management from National University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Supporting Macs in a Windows World
T By Frank Callaham
he following is true for most directories, but I will focus on the most common—Active Directory (AD). Many districts have deployed AD and enjoy the benefits of single sign-on and Windows group policies. In these same districts—with medium or small Mac OS X installations—the Macs are sometimes left running as stand-alone workstations, using a local directory, generic accounts, and so forth. If this is your environment (even with a few Macs), it’s time to bring your Mac OS X clients into the fold. Mac OS X has natively supported AD integration since 2003 (10.3), though for OS architecture reasons I would recommend Mac OS X 10.5 (2007) or above. With Mac OS X 10.5 and above, support was added for packet signing, NTLMv2 hashes, nested groups, DDNS updates, Machine Account password cycling, and more. Out of the box, joining a Mac to Active Directory is simple and follows the same steps as a Windows client: creating a machine account, etc. Once joined to the domain, authentication works as expected. What is missing from an “out-of-the-box” environment is policy management of the Macs. Policies on the client Macs can be added in two ways: via a Mac OS X Server or via schema extensions. Adding a Mac OS X Server to the local—or district-wide environment—allows the client Macs to authenticate via AD, but look to the Mac Server for policies. This allows you to deploy and manage Macs without any modification to your current AD environment. An overview can be seen here: www.seminars.apple.com/seminarsonline/activedir/apple/index.html?s=203&locs=us_en Modifying the AD schema may sound scary; but, many of you have already modified your schema to install Exchange, which involves well over 500 schema modifications. Only approximately 35 registered schema modifications are required to fully support Mac Policies and it’s done via Microsoft tools and/or help from Apple’s Professional Services organization. Seminars and white papers are available online at: http://images.apple.com/business/solutions/it/docs/Modifying_the_Active_Directory_Schema.pdf http://seminars.apple.com/go/modifying http://seminars.apple.com/go/managing Like the iPhone’s Exchange support that is so widely used, many large commercial and education sites have successfully integrated Macs into their environment. So much so that several companies have expanded on Apple’s included plug-in with their own. These can be useful for older versions of Mac OS X or for more advanced AD integration—including policy management without schema extension: Product
DFS support, GPOs, etc
Direct Control Centrify
DFS support, GPOs, etc
DFS support, GPOs, etc
Lastly, in the latest release of Mac OS X (10.6), native support for Exchange 2007 was added to the default Mail, iCal and Address book applications further expanding the integration. Microsoft has announced that Outlook for the Mac will ship later this year. http://www.apple.com/macosx/exchange http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2009/aug09/08-13MacOutlookPR.mspx If you would like further information, test equipment or assistance, please email me at email@example.com. Frank Callaham is a Development Executive in Apple’s Education division in California, specifically working with IT departments in K-12 and higher education institutions. He can be reached at frankc@ apple.com.
24 DataBus • Spring 2010
Consulting in an E-rate World
n the 12 years since E-rate began funding applicants, many of the rules and orders from the FCC and SLD have changed, and they continue to change almost every year. Some applicants find these rules, orders and subsequent changes challenging. Therefore, they choose to hire consultants in order to help them through the process. Choosing an E-rate consultant can be a diffiBy Robert Rivera cult task. Several years ago, I was appointed and confirmed by the FCC to serve as a director for the USAC board. My specific responsibility was to the service provider community. At that time and since then, USAC has discussed the idea of creating an E-rate consultant training or certification program. Companies or individuals who provide E-rate consulting would be required to take courses that would give them critical information so that they could in turn provide adequate and correct information to applicants. As of today, the SLD has not put such a program in place. So, it is incumbent upon the applicant to determine which E-Rate consultant can provide the best advice to their district, school, or library. As a service provider participating in the E-Rate program for the past 12 years, I have seen a variety of individuals and companies who offer their services as an E-rate consultant. In many cases, I have seen that these consultants provide needed information and guidance to their applicants. However, I have also witnessed consultants who provide erroneous information to their clients. Even worse, these consultants, because of their lack of knowledge of the E-rate program or procurement law, have often caused serious harm to schools and libraries. Bad advice can result in unnecessary audits, delays in funding, reduced or no funding at all, requests by the SLD for recovery of funds disbursed, and sometimes fraud claims against the district, library or service provider. It is important to know that it is the applicant, not the E-rate consultant, who is on the hook for any problems that might occur in the E-rate process. For these reasons, it is critical for applicants to consider at least two issues when engaging an E-rate consultant: the do’s and don’ts of E-rate consulting.
How do I select the right consultant for me? If you are considering hiring an E-rate consultant, it is critical to ask them the following questions: 1. How many years have you provided E-rate consulting? 2. How many applicants and applications have you helped to submit to the SLD? 3. Have you ever attended any E-rate program training? 4. What is your understanding of federal, state and local procurement law(s)? 5. Have any of your clients ever been audited or reviewed (“PIA”)? 6. What was the outcome of such audit or review? 7. Will you charge our district or library additional money to respond to an SLD audit or review? 8. How do you charge for your services? Based on the amount of money our applications receive, or a flat fee?
9. Have you ever appealed a decision by the SLD or FCC? 10. What was the outcome or result of your appeal? Were you successful? 11. Have any of your clients ever had to refund money as a result of an audit or review? 12. Does your consulting continue throughout the E-Rate process? For example, is the consultant just going to complete forms? Will they engage with the vendor(s) upon a funding commitment (“FCDL”)? Will they help with maintaining required documents, visit sites, confirm work as completed, and so forth? These are just a few, but perhaps the most important, questions that can be asked by an applicant seeking an E-rate consultant. The answers should give a potential client the ability to determine if the consultant has the necessary background and understanding of the E-rate program and procurement laws along with whether or not the consultant intends to assist with the entire project from start to finish. If you hire and pay for consultants, they should be as committed to the project as you are.
Promises Made by E-Rate Consultants Many E-rate consultants claim to know certain people at the SLD in an attempt to mislead potential clients by implying they have an “in” with the SLD or that their applications will receive special treatment. Having personally worked with many of the staff at the SLD, I can say with confidence that every application receives the same priority as the next. The SLD is committed to providing equal consideration to all applicants regardless of whether they have hired a consultant or not. Moreover, an E-rate consultant making a promise made that they can guarantee funding or priority to an application should raise a red flag since this is inappropriate, unethical, and potentially illegal. Caution should also be used should an E-rate consultant suggests using a specific vendor. Since the beginning of the E-rate program, the FCC and SLD have made very clear that service providers should be selected based on specific criteria, some of which they have listed on their website. Any applicant who selects a vendor based only on the advice of their consultant may find their applications rejected and their decision process questioned by the SLD. E-rate consultants are providing necessary information and help to many applicants of the E-rate program. Many of them are highly qualified and professional experts in the E-rate program who are able to successfully consult in an E-rate world. Robert Rivera is the founder and President of Spectrum Communications, leading the company to receive the INC 500 – Fastest Growing Companies in America Award six times. Robert assisted DGS with the creation of CMAS and was also appointed by the Federal Communications Commission to serve on the USAC Board to help spearhead several systematic changes. Spectrum Communications is committed to supporting CETPA, CoSN, CASBO, C.A.S.H. and CEFPI. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Spring 2010 • DataBus 25
Governor Introduces His Final State Budget:
Unfortunately, Sequels Are Rarely as Good as the Original
S By Dr. Jeffrey Frost
tating that the United States confronted the most severe economic crisis since the Great Depression in the last year, Gov. Schwarzenegger indicated that while California is slowly growing out of the recession, the primary revenue drivers for the budget include items such as capital gains taxes. Income on wages, sales tax and corporate taxes are all down. As a result, the state faces a $19.9-billion, two-year budget shortfall. The current fiscal year includes $6.9 billion of this, and $13.3 billion is the 2010-11 projected shortfall. The administration attributes the increased “budget gap” to three primary causes: 1) erosion in the value of $7.2 billion in savings enacted this past year in the February and July budget adjustments, including court decisions that have “blocked” solutions enacted by the Legislature in 2009; 2) additional program costs of $1.4 billion associated with population and caseload driven programs (such as prisons and Medi-cal); and 3) a decrease of $3.4 billion in General Fund (GF) revenues. It seems that in recent years, the budget shortfall gets bigger and budget solutions get harder to find. The 2010-11 fiscal year is no exception.
K-12 Education Budget Solutions The Governor asserts that he is “protecting” education even though he is cutting the Proposition 98 funding level by $2.4 billion. This assertion comes from creative interpretation and manipulation of the Proposition 98 constitutional funding guarantee. By using reduced General Fund estimates in the current year and asserting that we are in Test One funding status for the prior, current, and budget years, the Governor proposes to revise the 2008-09 and 2009-10 budget agreement and reduce the K-14 constitutional funding guarantee for the current fiscal year and year 2010-11. The result is that Proposition 98 minimum funding levels are revised downward from the Legislative Analyst’s November estimates: $50.7 billion to $49.9 billion in year 2009-10 and $51 billion to $50 billion in year 2010-11. So, while claiming he is “protecting education,” the Governor has found a way to lower K-12 spending by $1.8 billion.
26 DataBus • Spring 2010
2009-10 Budget Changes – No “Real” Midyear Cuts Proposed Technically, there are no actual mid-year spending cuts proposed in the budget. However, the reduced Proposition 98 minimum spending level allows the Governor to propose reverting $252 million in reduced ADA funding from lower K-12 enrollment and $340 million in “unused” K-3 class size reduction (CSR) funding to the General Fund as savings. For districts, this proposed $250 per ADA budget year reduction would not result in lowered year-over-year funding. Instead, this “cut” ensures the one-time $250 per ADA revenue limit cut enacted as part of the final 2009-10 budget agreement would simply continue into the 2010-11 fiscal year.
Proposed 2010-11 Budget Consistent with the approach used in the current year to accrue seemingly painless savings from a lowered Proposition 98 minimum spending level, the Governor proposes the following: • K-12 Growth and COLA—The administration projects an additional savings of $252 million from declining K-12 enrollment. For the first time in Proposition 98 history, the national economic recession will result in a -0.38 percent COLA calculation and thereby allow the state to reduce K-12 revenue limits by $206.6 million. In addition, the Department of Finance (DOF) confirmed that an adjustment to the deficit factor will be made to reflect the negative COLA. • K-3 CSR Reversion—Utilizing the lower Proposition 98 Funding Guarantee, the Governor proposes to revert $550 million of unclaimed CSR funding as General Fund savings. • Economic Impact Aid (EIA) Reversion—A reduction of $64.3 million in General Fund and substitute with available Proposition 98 Reversion Account funds for the Economic Impact Aid Program.
Per ADA Reductions to School Districts and COEs The Governor’s proposed budget also contains $1.5 billion in cuts to K-12 spending that will be felt by districts. This cut is approximately $250 per
ADA. Note that the actual size of the cut has become somewhat controversial. School Services of California pegs the actual cut at $201 per ADA once the cuts are distributed by elementary, high school, and unified districts. For purposes of Sacramento advocacy, most lobbyists are using the $250 figure. The total amount of cuts is outlined below: • $1. 2 billion “Administrative Cost Reduction” to School District Revenue Limits—As explained by administration staff at the time of writing, this proposal will “protect classroom spending, including spending for teachers and principals” by prohibiting school districts from reducing teacher and site principal SACS codes when implementing this budget reduction. In addition, the Governor’s budget proposes to “prevent [districts] from using future funding increases to augment central administration at the expense of classroom funding” and “prevent districts from shifting central administration costs to school sites.” The biggest questions on this item are: 1) will this specific cut be in the final budget? and 2) how will “administration” be defined? • $300 -million reduction to County Office and School District Revenue Limits—The Governor is again proposing to “eliminate barriers to contracting out to enable school districts to achieve cost savings” that will enable county offices and districts to better manage this revenue limit cut. This proposal is similar to last year’s proposal by the Governor to allow districts to negotiate a reduction to the school year as a way of managing cuts. In short, under the Governor’s budget proposal, LEAs will take a revenue limit cut whether this “reform” is enacted or really produces savings. • $45 million reduction to County Office Revenue Limits —As explained by administration staff, this proposal will “require county offices of education to consolidate services and functions” and may include county offices of education forming regional consortia to provide these services. The Governor asserts that this consolidation of county offices will “achieve economies of scale and reduce administrative costs.”
Talking Points on Proposed Budget Cuts While the January budget is bad because it will force districts to make continued cuts, there are concerns that the cuts to K-14 could get bigger as we get closer to summer. To be ready for this eventuality, education advocates have developed talking points that educators can use in dealing with their parents and local legislators. These talking points are outlined below. Despite the Governor’s claims that he is protecting education funding, the proposed budget would cut K-12 funding by $2.4 billion ($400 per student) in 2010-11. Background: $2.4 billion consists of: • $1.5 billion in permanent cuts to revenue limits • $0.2 billion for negative COLA • $0.2 billion to child development and preschool • $0.56 billion from K-3 CSR • $45 million cut to county offices of education The Governor’s proposal breaks the agreement approved in July 2009 that was meant to give school funding more stability. The budget package last July made $5.2 billion in cuts to education, including an unprecedented retroactive reduction of $1.6 billion from the prior year to lower the Proposition 98 guarantee. To offset these huge negatives, part of agreement was to certify the exact dollar level of the guarantee so schools would not take more cuts. State revenues in 2009-10 are generally “on track,” yet the Governor would now break the agreement for the sole purpose to make additional cuts to school funding. To make the cuts possible, the Governor proposes to manipulate and thus lower the Proposition 98 guarantee in two ways: 1. Redefine revenues to reduce the state General Fund and thus reduce Proposition 98 (so-called “gas tax swap,” which costs the guarantee $836 million annually). 2. Claim that 2008-09 funding actually consisted of $1.3 billion owed to schools for a prior year. Schools have already taken their share of cuts. We usually hear that schools need to “be reasonable” and that cuts to education “need to be part of the solution.” However, schools have taken and implemented their share of cuts made since the adoption of the 2008-09 budget through the July 2009 bud-
get adjustment. The current budget deficit is mostly the product of non-Proposition 98 areas of the budget not implementing budget cuts. It is not fair to ask everyone to cut but only fully implement the cuts to schools, then ask for more cuts to make up for the “solutions” that did not work, and say schools must be part of these new cuts. Education is the key to economic success and addressing other major problems like poverty and crime. We hear from some sources that the state needs to cut education in order to protect services to the poor and to maintain public safety. Yet every legislator will say publicly that education is the key to prevention on those issues. Education does help the poor and the homeless. Without education, most of those children are consigned to a cycle of crime and poverty. Also, since K-12 schools are often the biggest employer in the community, cuts to schools result in more layoffs and contribute to joblessness.
Summary While $2.4 billion in cuts does not seem like “protection,” it could look good by the time a budget is eventually signed later this year. Given the size and impact of the budget solutions on the non-Prop 98 side of the budget the Governor has proposed, educators should not feel secure that the Proposition 98 cuts proposed in this budget will be the only cuts we may take. Nor should educators assume that this budget crisis will end early. Hopefully, the state’s revenues will improve and that the Governor and legislative leaders can resolve the crisis before the next school year begins. It is likely to be a long, hot summer.
Dr. Jeffrey W. Frost is CETPA’s Legislative Consultant. The addition of his services is part of CETPA board initiatives intended to improve the delivery of critical information related to California technology initiatives to the CETPA membership. Dr. Frost has a wide-ranging background in academia, legislative advocacy, and public policy development and more than 20 years of experience lobbying the California State Legislature on behalf of school districts and education associations.
Spring 2010 • DataBus 27
DataBus Chats with Steve By Lisa Kopochinski, DataBus Editor
What are your responsibilities for the Menifee USD as Director of Technology? I am responsible for all aspects of district technology including technology-enriched curriculum development, administrative, student, and assessment systems, technology infrastructure, security, retrofitting, new facilities planning, policies, and procedures. I develop and oversee district technology plans, manage technology budgets, supervise technology staff, research and implement new technology initiatives, conduct presentations and training, and provide technical support to end-users and to the technology staff.
How long have you been in the computer industry? Thirty years in various positions using, promoting, and supporting technology including small business owner, consultant, programmer/ analyst, teacher, school administrator and now district technology director.
What drew you to this industry? What do you like most about it? In some respects, my whole career has been a bit of an accident. I found working with computers to be fun and, as someone who likes to tinker and be organized, I developed increasing interest and skills over the years. It seemed that no matter what I “did” for a living—title, role or responsibility—I was always involved with computer technology somehow. Marrying computer technology with a love of teaching and the good feeling I get being a participant in the development of our young people, I found a natural place for myself as the technology director in the Menifee Union School District beginning in September 2000.
When did you join CETPA and why? I first joined CETPA in 1992 when I was a field consultant working for Riverside County Office of Education. My director at the time, Phil Branstetter, was very involved in CETPA (then CEDPA) and eventually was president of our organization. He was a visionary leader who under28 DataBus • Spring 2010
stood the importance and strength of a statewide organization that allows us to collaborate, share best practices, work with better and more current information, and to have a louder voice with the technology industry and government. These same values are even truer today, and I feel very fortunate for the continued strength and influence CETPA has through the hard work and dedication of its loyal membership and leaders.
Where does CETPA need to grow? We need to develop stronger regional associations and activities occurring throughout the year that enhance and amplify relationships among our members.
What is the greatest challenge facing this industry and how can it be overcome? Obviously the education funding problem is our biggest current challenge. CETPA can be a part of several strategies including advocating to government regarding the allocation of resources for technology integration in schools, participating in the development of quality e-materials to supplant expensive textbooks and other curricular materials, communicating best practices for cost-effective implementations among our membership, and using our collective influence to gain pricing advantages among vendors.
How is the state’s deficit affecting you? It means more tasks performed by fewer staff members; lack of funds to replace aging equipment; increased interest in open source, virtual field trips and similar creative, cost-efficient solutions; greater need to pilot and to plan carefully; and increased tendency to “strategically abandon” projects or processes that aren’t effective or don’t meet core needs. The silver lining is that this is also our opportunity to innovate and position ourselves for the future with renewed focus on what is really important.
Where do you live and what do you like to do in your spare time? I live in Moreno Valley (the Inland Empire) and work in the southwest area of Riverside County. In my spare time I like to travel, hike, garden, camp and sail with my wife, Wendy, and with our five grown kids and one grandson when we can get together.
PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE continued from page 6
Member Engagement The strength of a professional organization like ours can be measured by the engagement and involvement of its members. The CETPA board is examining new ideas and models for providing more opportunities for our members to become involved in the governance and operations of CETPA. These might include more opportunities for serving in roles that support the organization in getting its work done, helping out with the conference, coordinating those additional services, and more. What should those roles be?
Speaking of roles, what governance model and roles might be called for in the “CETPA of the Future?” The board has been, for these 50 years, an all-volunteer, “working” board that has done the lion’s share of the work to put on the conference and do other CETPA activities. But we are
not just an annual conference any more. As we grow and change, what might be possible in the future if we could redistribute some of that work, and have the board more focused on strategic planning and direction-setting for the organization? What role might there be for retired members? Vendor members? What services could we add? What work might we wish we had additional staff to do? There are many possibilities. We have a new board member joining us this year—Steve Thornton from Menifee USD—tasked this year as the keynote and hands-on lab chair. We are excited about the new ideas and enthusiasm that he brings to the team and know you’ll join us in welcoming him. So, this issue of DataBus is focused on customer service. How timely is that? As we spend this time focused at CETPA on how we can better serve our member-customers, this issue is focused on the same for each of
us in our own organizations. In the “worst of times” from a budget perspective, how do we face the challenge of better serving our customers? Can we use great customer service to raise the visibility of the value of what our teams provide, in a time where clearly communicating value is crucial to our survival? How do we maintain great customer service with all the challenges we face, both in scarce resources and hits to morale? As always, your colleagues at CETPA are here to share. Hopefully, you will find some of those gems of value in this and future issues. Yes, these are tough times; but, we will get through them one way or another, and get through them better together. Let me know how we can better serve you.
Resource Guide & Advertiser’s Index C INNOVATION/ZANGLE
STUDENT ASSESSMENT SYSTEMS
Zangle / C Innovations (800) 230-2533 www.zangle.com Please see our ad on page................................4
Pearson School Systems (877) 873-1550 www.pearsonschoolsystems.com Please see our ad on page..............................31
Advanced Toolware..................................... 11
ERATE/CTF CONSULTANT TECHNOLOGY DESIGN SERVICES
STUDENT INFORMATION SYSTEMS
Infinity Communications & Consulting (661) 716-1840 www.infinitycomm.com Please see our ad on page..............................16 EXTRON ELECTRONICS
Extron Electronics (800) 633-9876 www.extron.com Please see our ad on page................. Back Cover FINANCIAL/HUMAN RESOURCES
Infinite Visions/Windsor Management Group (888) 654-3293 www.InfiniteVisions.com/CETPA Please see our ad on page................................3 Sungard Public Sector (866) 965-7732 www.sungardps.com Please see our ad on page................................7 INFORMATIONTRANSPORT SYSTEMS
Eagle Software (888) 487-7555 www.aeries.com Please see our ad on page................................2 Edupoint Educational Systems (800) 338-7646 www.edupoint.com Please see our ad on page..............................17 IST, Inc. (866) 266-6364 www.ist.com Please see our ad on page..............................21 Pearson School Systems (877) 873-1550 www.pearsonschoolsystems.com Please see our ad on page..............................31 Sungard Public Sector (866) 965-7732 www.sungardps.com Please see our ad on page................................7
BICSI (813) 979-1991 www.bicsi.org Please see our ad on page..............................13
Tyler Technologies (800) 772-2260 www.tylertech.com Please see our ad on page..............................29
NET BOOK SUMMIT
TURNKEY TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS AND CURRICULUM INTEGRATION
Conference Concepts (858) 673-1372 www.netbooksummit.com Please see our ad on page..............................19 SOFTWARE NETWORKING
Lightspeed Systems (877) 447-6244 www.lightspeedsystems.com Please see our ad on page..............................12 SOLUTIONS PROVIDER
Decotech (800) 597-0757 www.decotech.com Please see our ad on page..............................15 Western Blue (800) 660-0430 www.westernblue.com Please see our ad on page................................9
30 DataBus • Spring 2010
BICSI............................................................ 13 Conference Concepts................................. 19 Eagle Software............................................... 2 Edupoint Educational Systems..................... 17 Extron Electronics.........................Back Cover Infinity Communications & Consulting........ 16 IST, Inc......................................................... 21 IVS Computer Technology........................... 23 Lightspeed Systems..................................... 12 Pearson School Systems.............................. 31 Sungard Public Sector.................................... 7 Tyler Technologies....................................... 29 Western Blue................................................. 9 Windsor Management Group........................ 3 Zangle / C Innovations................................... 4
IVS Computer Technology (877) 945-3900 or (661) 831-3900 www.ivsct.net Please see our ad on page..............................23 USER ACCOUNT MANAGEMENT
Advanced Toolware (888) 770-4242 www.advtoolware.com Please see our ad on page..............................11
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