In the realm of education, itis always a battle to keep technology up to date and working in perfect condition. For some districts, even keeping Macs in schools is extremely difficult. In the case of the Lincoln Public Schools (LPS) district in Lincoln, Nebraska, the IT team is managing to stay on the cutting edge of technology while maintaining a cross-platform environment. How did they accomplish this? LPSis Internet Services Manager Kirk Langer says that Appleis Xserve was the key. From the Apple Education Profile on the district:
Although the majority of the computers in Lincoln schools are Mac-based, administrators have elected to maintain a dual-platform environment. Wintel computers are available in the high schools, says Kirk Langer, Internet services manager for the school system. Yet Xserves easily support the PCs.
"At the high school level, there are students interested in career opportunities where theyill be confronted with Wintel machines," he explains. "It would be irresponsible for us not to provide for those opportunities, so we offer a heterogeneous environment. We had to select the infrastructure tools that would ensure we could meet all studentsi and teachersi computing needs. Weive done that with our Xserves and the various Mac OS X Server technologies."
The district employs 19 Xserves, Network Install, NetBoot, NetRestore, Apple Remote Desktop, WebObjects, and several other Apple technology solutions to help manage the large number of computers throughout the schools. With these technologies combined, Langer and his team members can now restore a malfunctioning computer to a clean state in less than five minutes. On the lab administration side, Remote Desktop serves as a priceless tool for teachers and lab managers alike.
The newest development in the districtis use of Apple technology is a so-called "Universal Locker Solution". From the article:
Langer says Lincoln?s technology team is currently working with Apple Professional Services on the Universal Locker Solution that will give students and teachers secure, web-based access to their files from any computer. This custom application, which is being tested with a small number of users, employs multiple Xserves running WebObjects as the front end to Lincolnis Apache Web Servers, also running on Mac OS X.
"Apple has a winner with Universal Locker," says Langer. "For teachers, the application is truly the digital equivalent of an analog locker or file cabinet. Most students usually start and end their day at their locker. So for schools, access to a locker is considered a basic need.
"Because the application will run in a web environment, anyone can access the file services from a Mac or Wintel machine," Langer continues. "Either way, users will have an interface that?s completely consistent with their computing environment. Also, the files will be encrypted during transmission with secure sockets layer (SSL), so while we?ll be providing ubiquitous file access from school and home, we?ll be doing it in a very secure fashion."