The first day of school is exciting to students, but for staff at the Sioux Falls School District, this year is presenting a new challenge in the form of a Chromebook.
"Day one hasn't been going too bad. The amount of work that has gone into this project, we anticipated there would be some hurdles along the way," Sioux Falls School District Information Services director Bob Jensen said.
Small glitches with new technology are to be expected, but in order to support 17,000 new devices district-wide, major changes needed to be made.
"Behind the scenes, there was a tremendous amount of work done by the State of South Dakota as well as the school district and there were pieces of equipment that needed to be replaced," Jensen said.
The State increased its bandwidth capabilities to support projects like this. That led to the installment of a brand-new support system for the district powerful enough to handle the thousands of devices soon to be distributed through the schools. Yet, some concerns still exist.
"We think if there is going to be a problem, it's going to be the bandwidth out to the Internet and we already have a contingency in place. That's why the state replaced a certain amount of equipment. If it doesn't work at this speed, we'll bump it up to the next level," Jensen said.
With all of the upgrades the district has made this year to get these Chromebooks working effectively, the question is raised about whether textbooks will become a thing of the past. But at least for now, district officials say those textbooks will still remain an everyday item.
"I think we look at the Chromebook as another tool, another device. Will it replace all textbooks? That remains to be seen, but we are certainly looking at moving in that direction," Jensen said.
Only one school had the Chromebooks on Monday. The rest of the devices will be given out to students throughout the rest of the week. Once that happens, staff will be working out the bugs to make sure there are no problems as the year progresses.