ST. JOHNSBURY -- Throughout the summer and continuing this fall Jim Mazzonna, St. Johnsbury Academy's chief information technology officer, has investigated every nook and cranny of the Academy's campus while leading a team of technicians in a campus-wide effort to improve the Academy's computing network. Their efforts are paying dividends in the classrooms and throughout the campus as more users have greater access to a faster network.

Mazzonna notes that, on average, 1,800 hard wired and wireless devices are connected to the new network each day -- more than triple the number from last year. The growth in the number of devices is supported by 30 new wireless access points on campus and can be attributed to the work the faculty and students are doing as they use new technology to improve teaching and learning.

Prior to the start of the school year, every faculty member was given an iPad, and all teachers are working towards becoming expert users. Jonathan Rice, chair of the Social Studies Department, says they are making great progress. "We use a three-part scale to determine how our teachers are doing. The beginners are using their iPads to organize. The intermediate users employ the iPads to replace functions or tasks that other systems once did. The experts are the innovators. We want all of our faculty to be innovators by the beginning of the second semester."

When asked how he measures progress, Rice said he uses a survey that faculty complete on a regular basis. "The survey provides us with real data that we can graph to track our learning curve over time."

In addition to the faculty, all members of the freshman class received iPads as part of a newly developed humanities curriculum, which combines elements of the English, social studies, arts, language and Capstone departments. Students are working in cooperative teams to create professional quality exhibitions that will be displayed at several local arts institutions this spring, and the iPads will help with research, new instructional strategies, collaboration, and creation of original content.

In spite of the iPads that were added to the network this year, Mazzonna reports that he has seen no major issues from an IT perspective. "We have distributed 325 iPads with keyboards to members of the faculty and the freshmen class as well as over 2,400 applications to reside on those devices. This initiative would not have been possible to support on our old network, but the new fiber backbone has allowed us to offer greater access and opportunity to incorporate new technologies into our curriculum."

Mazzonna reports that his team will continue to implement the technology plan this fall. "Work continues on connecting all campus buildings with fiber backbone network. The fiber network will allow for expanded access and collaboration across all areas of the school. Additional wireless access points connected to the new fiber backbone are part of the planned upgrades. The new fiber network is supported by an upgraded connection to the Internet which has increased our bandwidth six-fold from last year."


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