Bowie I.S.D, located in Bowie, Texas, has five campuses with several computer labs at each location. The district’s technology is managed by two IT directors and a network manager. All campuses are now WiFi-accessible, and students are allowed to use their own digital devices in class. It is the school’s goal to have one-to-one iPads for student use at every campus in the next five years. At present, Impero Education Pro is used in computer labs only.
Around 2010, Texas schools went through budget cuts, which forced Bowie ISD to cut technology staff from three people down to two. Because of this, it became difficult to keep up with the demands of managing five campuses. Between routine network management and setup of new devices, the Bowie tech department was stretched thin. Each time there was an issue with a computer or network, the techs had to run to each physical location to troubleshoot. Additionally, they had no solution in place to keep track of what the students were doing online. They needed a solution to free up time, increase productivity, reduce energy costs and provide student Internet usage monitoring.
After extensive research of all the major options in school network and classroom management products, Technology Director Jim Britt found Impero Education Pro to be the best possible solution. The school had funds allocated for a network management system, but Jim had to provide reports on how much time, money and productivity the software would save. Impero Education Pro provided the best possible outcome compared to all its competitors.
Impero Education Pro was installed in all the computer labs at each Bowie campus in one summer. Teachers were trained swiftly and easily to use the software in the computer labs.
Since implementing Impero Education Pro, Bowie ISD has realized several benefits, including:
saves time – By installing Impero Education Pro, Bowie ISD drastically reduced the amount of time it took technology staff to maintain and troubleshoot the computers and network at all five of their buildings. Techs were then able to control many tasks remotely from their office rather than travelling from building to building.
improves productivity – Because of the ability to remotely control computer issues, such as software installations, virus scanning and troubleshooting, teachers continued with classroom activities without any interruption to instruction time.
ease of use – Even the least tech-savvy individuals at Bowie ISD were able to easily understand the user interface and features with very little training. Additionally, Impero’s tech service team gave (and still gives) the Bowie tech crew any answers they needed in a timely manner. improves behavior – The screenshot and recording functionality captures any incidents of inappropriate online behavior and enabled each school to keep track of any misuse.
energy savings – By using Impero Education Pro to shut off all computers during times of non-use, Bowie experienced significant savings on electricity.
overall outcome – Due in part to the savings in time, energy and productivity that Impero Education Pro provided, the Bowie ISD was able to add back in a third technician to their technology department.
Q&A with Jim Britt, Technology Director
Impero: how did you justify the cost of purchasing Impero Education Pro?
Jim: “I did a study and found how many kilowatts a computer used in a day’s time, how much it cost to operate that machine and then how much we saved by having them all shut off at a certain time during the day after school. Also, [Impero saves] from an end-user convenience standpoint because you just don’t want people sitting there waiting forever for you to come do something if you can do it right away. So, between the two, I could justify to my superintendant that making the purchase was worth every penny and more.”
Impero: how did having Impero software change your technology department workload?
Jim: “It drastically affected the workload, simply because you don’t have to leave the office to go take care of so many of these software issues. You might get a call saying, ‘I’ve got something on my screen that I think might be a virus.’ And you would have to say to that person, ‘As soon as I finish so-and-so, I’ll come over there.’ Well, that means he’s stuck where he is, so we’re wasting time. It saves time for the end-user. Yesterday, we had two teachers who wanted to have the Adobe Pro installed on their machines. Bang, you just do it from the office. You don’t have to say, ‘Well, I’ll come over tomorrow and do it.’ You just say, ‘Oh, just hang on a second, I’ll do it right now.’ It’s hard to put a number or pencil to how much time it saves, but it just saves so much time. It’s just incredible.”
Impero: tell us a little about how Impero Education Pro has helped with classroom management.
Jim: “Just today, we caught a kid at our alternative education campus; he was looking at porn images. He had the image size down real small, so he was blocking the instructor’s view. But we’re like, ‘Hey, let’s just call over there and tell them ol’ Freddy-boy is doing it again.’ [Without Impero] You can’t see what everybody’s doing. You think you’re seeing it, but kids are so smart. They’re sneaky, but they’re smart. They can figure out how to get around whatever roadblock you’re trying to throw. Now that we have Impero, we can prevent kids from doing that.”
Impero: what are some of the other uses that you’ve found besides installing software and catching kids watching inappropriate subject matter?
Jim: “Well, just basic troubleshooting or, for instance, we just upgraded to Microsoft Office 2013. Even though I sent out instructions ahead of time, we still had people who said, ‘But my instructions were in my e-mail,’ and, ‘Well now I can’t get to my e-mail.’ We were able to tell them, ‘Here, let me take control, open up your e-mail, put the shortcut in the taskbar, and from now on, there you go.’ Just that alone would’ve taken hours. You try to go around to 950 computers and help people who need that one task done. It was just too ridiculous. Now with Impero, from the office, we’re able to manage all of those types of situations.”
Impero: if you had an unlimited budget, what would the next step be with utilizing the Impero software?
Jim: “Well if it was unlimited, I would probably investigate the iPad control. We also really need to put it in elementary AEP building, because even though the computers are around the wall, the teachers can’t always see what the kids are doing. I think it’s an outstanding product, and I highly recommend it.