Kannapolis schools update technology through pairing with Cabarrus County
By Sarah Campbell
KANNAPOLIS -The Kannapolis City school system has ramped up its technology infrastructure without shelling out a hefty amount of money.
For the past year, the district has collaborated with Cabarrus County government to move its critical technology infrastructure into the county's qualified data centers.
"It's a secure, reliable and redundant environment," said Brenda McCombs, the district's director of instructional technology.
The partnership, which began in October 2011, provides the school system storage space the creates a strong foundation for virtual desktop projects and the ability to transition to an (Internet) cloud-based service model.
McCombs said the district has already started using the desktop virtualization. The career and technical program tested the switch by transforming three computers into shells that run off of a server.
After a successful run, McCombs said the school system decided to expand the virtualization to A.L. Brown High School, which purchased about 1,400 Dell notebooks in 2010 with a nearly $1.6 million Impact through Technology grant sponsored by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. Each student is assigned a computer, but they are no longer allowed to take them home because repair costs hit $36,000 last year.
"There is just way, way too much damage going on and the warranty is running out soon," McCombs said.
Switching to desktop virtualization means the power for the computers comes from a server rather than the computer itself, McCombs said.
"Now we'll be able to help students stay connected with technology without having to make huge upgrades," she said.
McCombs said the school system's wireless connectivity has also improved by bumping up the number of access points throughout buildings.
"The increased density has really helped us out in the elementary schools," she said.
McCombs said the district has also "exploded with iPads in the classrooms."
"If you look at the original timelines we put out there we said it would take three years to get a pilot set in every school," she said. "Now we have one set in every school and at least two in the three upper schools."
McCombs said it's been amazing to see young students doing such phenomenal things with the iPads.
"We're nine weeks into the school year and they're already very comfortable using them for learning," she said.
The district is currently working to revamp its website with the help of Kevin Russell, a science teacher at A.L. Brown who is currently working on his master's degree at Appalachian State University.
Each school page will have a section where people can click to learn more about each teacher, including a paragraph with biographical information, details about their educational background and their vision for education, McCombs said.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.