Monday, August 17, 2009

tt4t_095 Countdown, T-7 days to first day back to school

It’s Monday, August 17th, 2009 and welcome to episode 95 of TechTalk4Teachers, I’m Tom Grissom. We are fast approaching the first day of fall semester classes and there still remains much to do in schools all across America. Technology support staff are making that final push toward the first day of school. Many schools have already started, at EIU our official first day back to school is now one week away, we begin on August 24th.

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Summertime is a time when technological equipment gets updated with the installation of new purchases and is also a time for installing program patches and upgrading programs to the latest versions. In addition, there are often many moves that occur as faculty and staff change offices and computer labs are deconstructed for waxing of floors and then reconstructed again. All of this takes time and effort and before we know it it is again time for the first day of school.

The ITC has been very busy this summer with the day-to-day operations assisting faculty, staff, and students with summer school activities but we have also been working hard on a number of other projects. We have installed approximately 70 new computers for College of Education and Professional Studies faculty and staff over the summer. We have added 60 new netbooks that are housed in mobile carts and are available for faculty checkout for classroom use with students.

In addition we have updated the approximately 90 other ITC Lab computers including our main ITC Lab, BUZ 2445 Lab, and two mobile gateway carts. The good news is that all but a few of the faculty and staff new computers are installed and ready to go. The bad news is that we now have approximately 70 older computers to deal with that require the removal of data by wiping the hard drives and getting the older equipment ready for re-deployment or surplusing, so there remains a significant amount of work to be done.

One thing that I think surprises many people is the amount of time it can take to install a new computer. While I can make an image of a computer and have it in working order with all standard programs in less than 15 minutes of getting it out of the box the real time comes with transferring the data from the old system and customizing the computer to suit the needs of the end user.

Setting up a time with faculty and staff over the summer is also a challenge. A new installation involves the user backing up data, restoring the data, and installing any additional software that is not part of the standard application package. ITS and ITC staff help assist with this process. In addition this year we have had to deal with some email changes and conversions that add additional installation time. It is not unusual for this to take two or three hours per computer. With 70 new installations this summer the time really adds up. Add this to the other updates and changes we have completed and you can see that it has indeed been a busy summer at the ITC.

I always appreciate faculty and staff that backup their computers regularly and keep their computers up-to-date with the latest patches. Just like your car performing routine maintenance and care greatly improves your experience. You have heard me talk before about the importance of backing up data but I am still amazed that many do not have a regularly scheduled backup procedure and system.

I talked about the way I organize my files for backup way back on episode 61 of TechTalk4Teachers and you can refer to this episode if you would like to learn more about the backup system I have used over the years that has served me well. A link is available in the show notes.

tt4t_061 Its Halloween do you know where your backup is?

By using this system I can literally change to a new computer in the time it takes to copy the backup files to the new system, usually less than 10 minutes.

Our ITS department is still working to expand network storage options and this expansion will be a big improvement that is long overdue. Faculty and staff will be able to save work to a network drive that will be routinely backed up by our ITS department. This will also cut down the time for installing new computers in the future as the end user data will be available on networked drives and will greatly reduce the amount of data transfer required by the current localized system.

We have worked very hard over the summer to provide the technological tools necessary for teaching and learning in the modern era. Now it is time to put them to good use by providing the best teaching and learning experience possible for our students. I now look forward to helping faculty and students with the integration of these fabulous tools into the curriculum.

Technology Pick of the Week

My Technology Pick of the Week this week is a flash-based application that can tell you what time it is anywhere in the world. As I work more and more with other people from all around the world I find myself needing a quick way to know the exact time it is somewhere else on Planet Earth.

This link came courtesy of my Personal Learning Network and I find it useful for converting Central Time in the United States to the time anywhere in the world. A link is available in the show notes.

World Clock and Time Conversion

To use this website just click on the World Time link on the left-side of the graphic and choose your time zone. To select a different city in the world click on the appropriate button, for example click on AU for Australia and then select the city in Australia you would like to know what time it is there. The World Clock will display the current time for the selected city.

The site also provides other dynamic clocks including, population, illness, death, environment, energy, US crimes, food, and more so it may have other teaching uses in your classroom as well.

While I can make educated guesses about what time it is anywhere in the world this site gives me confirmation with the exact local time anywhere in the world. If you are using other world clock programs that you like please drop me a line and let me know what you are using.

That wraps it up for episode 95 of TechTalk4Teachers. Transcripts and show notes for this episode and archived episodes are available on the web at the Eastern Illinois University Instructional Technology Center website at just click on the Techtalk4Teachers Podcast link. If you have questions, comments or suggestions please send an email to or leave a comment on the TechTalk4Teachers blog. Until next time, this is Tom Grissom, keep on learning.

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