When are staff laptops being replaced?

teacher laptop courseNew laptops will be available starting in mid-Jan 2014.

Our tech staff has spent the last couple of months testing, comparing, and shopping for deals to replace the existing staff laptops.  We recently asked vendors to make their best offers.  We then asked our group of laptop trainers to review and provide feedback on the models.  With the help of the laptop trainers, we selected the HP 4970m model and are finalizing the order for them now.

Q1. Are we looking at touch screen computers for the teacher laptops?
A1.  No.

Q2. Why not?  Why bother with an upgrade if we aren’t getting touch screen capabilities?
A2.  In order to use a windows based touch screen machine – you must install Windows 8.  At this point in time, we cannot recommend moving to Windows 8 for any machine in the district, as Windows 8 is not compatible with the following…

  1. Windows 8 will not allow you to access the state’s website for managing IEPs
  2. Win8 will not allow you to access many sections of Infinite Campus
  3. Win8 will not allow you access the district print shop/printgroove
  4. Win8 does not yet have a VPN client that’s compatible with our firewall, so you can’t access your network drives from home.

Knowing that Windows 8 is not compatible with several key systems – and that a change to Windows 8 will cause an entire retraining (since the interface is extremely different from Windows 7), we do not see a purpose or need to go to Windows 8.

Q3.  Can we delay the replacements and wait until Windows 8 will work for those specific systems?
A3. We reviewed this as an option, but decided against it, as it could take at least 6 months before that becomes viable.  We do not have a timeframe for when Window 8 will be compatible with the IEP website, PrintGroove is estimating summer of 2014, and Infinite Campus is also expecting summer of 2014.

Q4. So… if we’re not looking at touch screen windows 8 machines, what are we looking at?
A4. What we’ve heard from staff is that they would like new laptops that are…  lighter, thinner, faster.  Really, that’s it… we’ve been hearing those three things over and over again.  In fact, we have some requests to reduce the size of the screen and move to an optional/external CD/DVD drive to help shed some pounds off the laptop.

Q5.  So what models made the final review?
A5.  The two models that were reviewed by the tech staff and the laptop trainers were the  HP 9470M  and the Lenovo X240.  

Q6.  If I already have a teacher/staff laptop, will I need to take a 15 hr course in order to receive the new model?
A6.  We will have a 15 hr course available for PD credit for individuals who need credit, but we are also looking at a shorter 4 hour version for staff  who just need to replace their laptop and do not need credit.

Q7. Can I keep or buy my existing laptop – and still receive the new model?
A7. No.  We can NOT legally sell the device directly to staff.  In addition, we have a need for the laptops within the district.  We want to replace all remaining netbooks and other older devices in the district.

Q8. Will I be able to keep the older laptop and get the newer laptop, so I can have time to transfer my files?
A8.  If you sign up for either the 4 hour or 15 hr course, our trainers will help you transfer the files at the time the new laptop is deployed, as you will not be allowed to leave with both laptops.

Q9. Will trainers from the last roll out automatically become trainers for the new program?
A9.  They will certainly have the option to be trainers for the new program, but they do NOT have to be. We’ll also be accepting new trainers as well. However, the role of the trainer this time will be very different.

Q10.  If I was a trainer in the old program, will that automatically enable me to get a new laptop sooner?
A10.  No… only trainers in the new program will have first access to the new machines.

Q11.  Will the role of the “new” trainer be exactly the same as before? (In other words, the course handouts were already made, you just followed it step by step).
A11.  No.  Trainers this time will need to assist staff members with backing up their existing devices, which we believe will present more technical challenges than the training offered during the last round.

Q12.  I’m interested in becoming a trainer, who do I contact?
A12.  Contact Brian Abeling, abelingb@wdmcs.org

Q13. Who qualifies for a new updated laptop?
A13.  Any certified or salaried staff that currently has a district provided laptop.

Q14.  I’m a certified or salaried staff member – but I don’t currently have a laptop.  Will there be an option for me to get a new laptop?
A14.  Yes, we’ll have an option available for staff members who do not currently have a laptop and want one.

Q15.  When will the dates/signup be available for getting the new laptops?
A15.  Registration will not be available until Dec 2013.

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