FAQ - Fall 2013 Tech Rollout
Frequently Asked Questions About the Fall 2013 Technology Roll Out
Am I Getting a New Computer?
IT has purchased and imaged Macbook Pro computers for all full time returning teachers and many specialists. The first waves were distributed in June and August. The remaining machines will be distributed on Monday August 26th. The Digital Learning team determined the allocation of machines to individual staff. If you are a new teacher we are doing our best to get your machine ready. The majority of you should have them first day, if not you will have them first week.
In total, we have prepared well over 600 new machines in the past 90 days. Along with the deployment of 200 new Windows machines to Town and School Administrators it means that 80%+ of all staff computers have been replaced in the last 9 months.
What is Casper & How Does it Help Me?
Casper is a “mobile device management” solution that allows us to make changes to all Apple devices automatically without having to touch each machine. Casper also allows us to “remote” to your machine to fix problems without requiring a technician visit. In addition, it provides an internal “app store” where can provide approved software for download. Right now Casper is loaded on all of the MacBooks and it will be added to the iPads later this Fall. IT has procured and configured technology called Casper that helps us do many things to manage our Apple devices. One of the things it provides is a self service store. Once software has been approved it can be downloaded directly from our internal store without needing a technician. Right now you can download your SMARTBoard software and a few other approved packages. That list will grow over time.
Will All of My Old Software Be Available Through Casper?
Your machines have been preloaded with Microsoft Office and other key productivity applications. Many of you have asked about educational software that you had been using in your Windows environment. IT and Digital Learning have developed a comprehensive procedure for you to request new software for either your Macs or your iPad devices. The Digital Learning team will be distributing those instructions shortly. All requests originate with the Digital Learning team to confirm educational value. If we have not already purchased Mac licenses your principal or program advisor will need to provide funds for purchase. Please do not submit work orders for software installs to IT directly. Critical applications like Smart NoteBook are already available in the store. However, given the enormity of this overall transition you should not expect your “favorite” application to appear immediately in the store.
Can I Install My Own Apps? Can I Have Dropbox? What About Google Apps? Etc.
Over the coming months we will be exploring many new applications. We will move somewhat slowly initially as we all become more familiar with our new tools but the infrastructure will shortly be ready to support all of these opportunities.
Will My Macbook Work at Home? Do I Still Have a Separate Login for Home?
Your new MacBooks have been configured to provide you with a single login profile that works both at work and at home. At home you can attach to your home wireless and configure the MacBook to work with your home printers. All local files are available in either location. Network files, for the moment, are not available from home but that will change by the end of the year.
Do I need to turn my Windows machine in?
We are allowing a grace period of roughly a month. We will begin collecting machines shortly before Columbus Day. Please move any files you have during this period either to your network shares or via a thumb drive. We will give you specific information on when and how to return your machines. We will then take any serviceable machines and make them available for classroom or other special uses.
Is My Computer Backed Up?
No. To insure critical files are backed up you must transfer them to your network file shares. Anything stored on the MacBook directly will not be backed up. We are exploring additional options in this area.
What is AndoverNet?
AndoverNet is our new town-wide wireless system. It is based on technology provided by Aruba Networks. We have installed AndoverNet in all of the school buildings and will be extending this to all municipal buildings after the start of school. AndoverNet consists of 200+ “access points” installed throughout each building plus new network switches plus new “firewalls” plus lots of additional software and hardware. By the end of the year every town space and some adjacent playgrounds and fields will have access to state of the art wireless.
Is Andovernet Complete?
We have used sophisticated wireless analysis software to place the access points but we certainly expect to find “dead spots” as everyone connects. Don’t create a work order for those. Just send an email to with detailed information about which school and what specific area of the building you are having trouble in. We will add additional access points as the weeks go on.
Do Our Macbooks Use Andovernet?
Yes. Unfortunately, AndoverNet was completed only days before the start of school and all of the Mac’s were imaged before the installation of the wireless was complete, we will walk you through the necessary steps to connect to the new network on the first day of school. Teachers who had Macs delivered last year may also require some assistance connecting. The IT support team will be at Andover High School all day August 26th to assist you with connecting to the network. Once we have completed more of our configuration we will be turning off all of the old networks (APS1, APS2, APS Public, etc.) and converting fully to AndoverNet.
Will All of Our Wireless Devices Work With Andovernet?
Because hundreds of iPad’s, laptop carts and other wireless devices have been using our old APS1, APS2, etc. networks we are “mimicking” those networks temporarily using our new wireless technology. During September we will methodically try to convert all of these devices to the new network and phase out the old. Unfortunately, I know that through the years there have been many “one offs” special cases, you may find connectivity issues initially. Contact us ASAP and we will resolve.
We are also aware that there are challenges using AndoverNet with our current AppleTV and Epson Projector wireless setups. We will be sending you additional instructions and making some physical changes in the next 10 days to address this. Please be patient.
Can Anyone Use Andovernet?
AndoverNet is a highly secure next generation network. Instead of relying on passwords and similar technology it relies on accessing your “credentials” on our central server. AndoverNet-Staff is a special network exclusively for employees controlled by our central server. AndoverNet-Public will be a limited “open”, guest type network that will permit limited access to network resources to visitors, parents, and for personal devices. This network will be given a limited amount of bandwidth to ensure that adequate bandwidth is available for our mission critical activities. This public network will be turned off initially but will be made available within the first 10 days.
Will Andovernet Be Faster?
The new access points are 6X faster than our older access points and we have 4X more of them. We will shortly be upgrading our speed between buildings by 10X. We will be doubling the size of our Internet connection. You will start to see some of the speed immediately but more is coming. However, this is a constant battle. New, fast machines means you’ll want to do more so we’ll need more horsepower. The infrastructure will all shortly be in place to support all our current needs plus the potential 10X increases that will be required as we move to more student devices or 1:1 type programming.
Will I Be Able to Access Andovernet From Home?
Our new firewall has very sophisticated capabilities to support remote access that will not require the old fashioned approaches we currently use for at home access. We hope to activate these within the next 90 days and to do a controlled rollout that will eventually provide these capabilities to all users.
What is the Status of the Projector & Smartboard Project?
The projector install project has been largely completed. Over 300 new interactive projectors were installed through the district and in many administrative spaces. We were asked to suspend transferring SMARTBoards the last month of school and switched our install teams to the wireless project. About 20 SMARTBoards still need to be taken down and/or installed. This will begin happening Sept 9th after all of the wireless access points are hung and confirmed. New projectors for Shawsheen also need to be ordered and that will happened after the SMARTBoard transfers are completed
Any Other Useful Tips?
If you see a red dot on your login screen while on the AndoverNet network please wait until it clears. It means the machine has not yet found its connection for you.
- Please shut down your Macbook before going home and before coming to work. If you just close the lid and “sleep” you may find your machine has network confusion.
- If you see a white screen at anytime it probably means the Macbook is updating itself. Please do not interrupt.
- If you want to use files at both home and work you need to store them locally on you’re my Documents folder rather than on your network drive. This will change in a few months when your network folders are available at home.
- Your Outlook application now works equally well at work or at home. You can use Outlook Web (OWA) if you prefer but you can now use full Outlook anywhere.
What Else Has it Been Working on? Is This the End of the New Technology?
In the background IT has:
- Combined the town, school, library and public safety networks into a unified network.
- Upgraded all of its internal servers to powerful new machines capable of supporting heavy workloads
- Begun the process of moving dozens of small special purpose servers into “virtual servers” running on the new infrastructure
- Upgraded its storage infrastructure to provide 8X storage that is highly expandable and much faster.
- Created a secondary data center at the Public Safety Center that is completely redundant and will provide failover in case of a disaster at the main school data center.
- Evaluating and installing a new Voice over IP (VoIP) digital phone system to integrate all voice and data and provide better linkage to smartphones
- Increasing our use of mobile devices for public safety, DPW an others
- Revamping our web sites
- Launching a pilot video server to provide repositories for rich media content for teachers
- Laying the groundwork for a large quantity of student devices
How Do I Get Help With All This New Technology?
- Submit a work order
- Send an email to
- If at the high school, go to the IT Help Desk
- Call us at xTECH
- Drop in to see us at the School Administration building, 3rd floor
- Technicians are usually in each building at least twice per week but they will already have work orders assigned to them so “catching them in the hall”, “this will only take a minute” is not really the best approach
- Look for resources on the Digital Learning page