Portage Township Schools completely one-to-one district

Evan Gerike, Managing Editor

Portage Township Schools is now an entirely one to one school district, with every student having complete access to an iPad.

The Class of 2019 was the first class to receive an iPad, and with the Class of 2018 having graduated, all students grades 6-12 have been issued a personal device. At the elementary schools, each classroom either has a class set of iPads or will be getting one within the next few months.

Director of Innovative Learning Michael Depasquale says the school has been slowly working to get the entire district to where it is now with technology.

“We’ve been doing this over the past four years slowly and methodically instead of doing it all at once, knowing it’s going to be a phasing in process, and that infrastructure-wise it’s going to take time. So as we’ve been adding each year we’ve been increasing our bandwidth,” Depasquale said.

There are about 5000 students who are one to one in the district. At any given time, nearly 9000 devices are running on the network.

With the increasing amount of devices in the township, the district had to increase the bandwidth as well.

“We made a major system upgrade this year, and anytime you make a system upgrade, you get all the new nuances of the companies,” Depasquale said.  “Some of the things in regards to our firewall, our broadband, you have to get all the links in the chain to work together, so our engineer and [head of IT] Mr. Lesich are working through that process. Unfortunately it’s not ‘flip the switch and everything works.’ They’ve been working, and every week it gets a little faster, a little faster.”

At this point, all those small links should be worked out, and the wifi should be working properly.

“With the new setup, iPads and any thing school owned Apple will automatically enroll [in the new wifi],” Depasquale said. “The Guest network runs at the exact same speed [as the other network], so students and anyone else who comes into this building can hop on guest, type in the password, and they’re up and running.”

The guest network will only be slowed during testing to allow the broadband to focus on the testing. While the speed can be dialed down, it will run at the same speed of the other network most of the time.

“It also times out after a long period of time, so after being offline for a while and having a network that will kick you out opens up the broadband a little,” Depasquale added.

According to Depasquale, the district is still trying to figure out what will happen to the seniors’ iPads after they graduate. PTS is looking into how they can trade them out; potentially selling them to students for cheap or even giving them to the students.

“That’s all in the discussion depending on rules, so we’re still working through that process,” Depasquale said. “The typical life cycle of an iPad for schooling is 6-8 years.”

If a student needs a new iPad charger, they can buy a new one through the school or buy an Apple certified charger from a different market.

For teachers, having students who all have iPads makes the school day easier. Now that every teacher knows they have students with iPads, they have the ability to use school programs such as Schoology much more efficiently and reliably.

Depasquale also added that he is impressed with how patient students and teachers have been through this whole process. “We’ve been spoiled, in a good way.”