The story behind GlenOak’s tech issues

Technology issues stiffel the start of the school year.


Student on phone at GlenOak High School not being able to access Wi-Fi

     As you enter Glenwood Intermediate you are handed a chromebook which will last you through the rest of your Plain Local School’s education. What happens when your Chromebook is broken or the Wi-Fi is not working as many students have experienced? These issues are taken care of by the Tech Department.

     The Tech Department handles a variety of issues. Such as fixing Chromebooks with missing keys, a broken screen and fixing the battery. But they also handle behind the scenes problems such as the internet, blocked sites and updates of our district devices and classroom needs. 

School Wi-Fi

     Most school computers were on the guest Wi-Fi when ideally they should have been using the PLS Chromebook Wi-Fi. But many students and faculty brought their own devices which caused an influx of users to the PLS Chromebook Wi-Fi. 

     Micheal Milford is the director of the technology department for Plain Local Schools and he handles most of the technology issues with his team. 

     “Think of our entire internet as one big pipeline including everything that happens in the Plain Local Schools district,” Milford said. “Basically, that is maxing out the Wi-Fi, putting pressure on the others [Wi-Fi], this creates a clog.”

    The guest network is established to have 1,024 users, which is fairly large. Many students and teachers brought their own laptops, phones, watches and other devices that were all connected to the internet. 

     “There was an update that ran over the summertime,” Milford said. “Basically on some devices, which were random, the update got frozen and the devices were getting stuck onto the guest Wi-Fi.”

     The Tech Department came up with a plan. They had to create two more secure internal Wi-Fis, the staff and chromebook. They even doubled the guest Wi-Fi user availability. 

     “We had to basically lock away guests under a password that then made room for those chromebooks to join guests,” Milford said. “Google then pulls it over by being a registered user of the Chromebook and then allows you to join the more private, better secure network.”

Securely Classroom

     Many students in classes are always on their Chromebooks, but are they ever on the appropriate tab and finishing school work?

      At the start of the school year, teachers and students took the time in class to restart the Chromebooks to retain Securely Classroom. 

     “Securely Classroom allows for us to do a variety of different things but in its essence, if I’m the teacher with a class of 25 kids I can see by a little icon of what everyone is doing,” Milford said.

     Securely Classroom allows teachers to send reminders to your screen, take you to a specific website, and check to make sure students are on what they have been directed to. It is a way for the teacher to control the classroom when each student is behind a screen. 

     It has been rolled out to Oakwood and later in September will start at the high school. This may decrease the amount of inappropriate content and accounts that Chromebook users are accessing. 

Blocked Sites

    Chromebooks allow us to explore the internet, but not all of it. There are many sites that students come across that are blocked. Why are they blocked? Who chooses what is blocked? Many school websites that classrooms use come up as blocked. 

     Jason Patterson, the head of security in the Technology Department deals with the world of the internet and is behind the scenes of the blocked sites and our Chromebooks. Plain Local uses Securly. This application filters out “good” and “bad” websites. 

     “A lot of websites are categorized by games, adult content, health, web chat and emails,” Patterson said. “It filters itself and then there is an uncategorized site that securely uses that administration and teachers can email the URLS to them, so that then they can review the site and deem whether it should be blocked.”

     Even though tech issues may come about, Chromebooks are important and are the new way of learning. 

     “I think that they are an exceptionally powerful teaching and learning tool,” Milford said. “It gives you what is relatively cheap access to the internet and this whole world of everything we do with google doc and teachers sharing on google classroom. It provides access that we could not get with a typical textbook.”

     Chromebooks are how most students access their school lives. They are an important tool and part of learning. Even though it is another screen, they are essential.