San Diego Schools Zip Around the Internet

San Diego City Schools are able to provide students controlled access to valuable educational material available on the Internet with the help of Iomega’s high-capacity, portable storage solutions. Once teachers store the Web content to these disks, students are able to surf the Web safely and securely. In addition, they can develop, store and share multimedia applications. Meanwhile, teachers can transport their disks between work, home and other locations.

Virtually every public school district in the United States is facing massive budget pressures, and San Diego City Schools are no exception. It is the eighth largest urban school district in the United States, employing nearly 8,000 teachers and educating 141,000 students in the 176 different schools in the area. Like many other districts, San Diego struggles to keep up with technology advancements that will assist in providing a current, well-rounded education for its students. San Diego City Schools has to creatively incorporate technology into the curriculum without subsidies to support technology investments. With the Internet and computers playing an ever-present role in these students’ lives, technology is critical.

Most kindergarten and first-grade students are able to use simple technology applications by the time they start school. With younger and younger students wanting and needing computer time, the demand for computer access is high. In the district’s classrooms, however, an entire class shares two or three computers. When every student needs a computer on which to work, teachers either check out laptop computers from the Instructional Media Center, or they take the kids to a computer lab within the building.

Off-line Web Browsing

Teachers have found creative ways to provide students the necessary exposure to the wealth of information available on the Internet without having ready access. The district plans to have every classroom wired to the Internet by June 2000. Until then, many teachers deliver Internet-based lessons without live connections by pre-selecting Web sites that they want to incorporate into a lesson plan and downloading these sites onto Iomega Zip disks. At lesson time, the students pop the disks into their computers’ built-in Zip drives. They then can view each site exactly as it appears online, and learn how to navigate the Internet just as they would if they were actually connected live.

"Students and teachers don’t need to struggle with the technology," says Casey. "With the Zip drive, they can keep an entire project or multiple projects on a Zip disk and move it back and forth between school and home very easily. We chose Iomega products because they solved our portability issues."

Allowing students to access Web sites on Zip disks eliminates major security concerns with children on the Internet, like access to inappropriate material. Teachers select the Web sites for their lessons and maintain control of the information included. They know that all of their students will be "on the same page" if they teach from Zip disks. And, unlike textbooks, Zip disks are rewriteable. The media can be reused, and the content updated at will, ensuring students always have the most current information.

Many schools use filtering programs to try to prevent students from accessing inappropriate material. While most of these programs do filter a great deal of that material, parents and teachers are finding that the programs also prevent access to sites dealing with important issues related to health, biology and anatomy. By saving those sites to Zip disks, teachers can use that material without the online connection, thus allowing themselves and their students access to this important information.

Accessing Web sites from Zip disks also eliminates security issues associated with online Web browsing. Although chat rooms are popular with many students, they can present dangers. Students have been known to give out personal information to strangers or have inappropriate anonymous chats while online at school. Since students accessing Web sites on Zip disks are not actually online, these risks are avoided.

Problems caused by bad Internet connections are also eliminated. Teachers can focus their time on presenting material to the entire class, rather than worrying about TCP/IP protocol and Primary DNS servers and how to restore a lost connection to a single student’s computer.

The disks the teachers use have 100MB of storage space — enough to store multiple downloads and documents, which are easily archived and retrieved from the disk. One Zip disk can store hundreds of Web pages. According to Michael Casey, Project Resource Teacher, the district may purchase Zip 250MB drives in the future to accommodate growing file sizes. Casey and his department help classroom teachers use and integrate technology into their curricula. "It took the teachers almost no time at all to learn how to use the Zip drive," says Casey. "There was almost no learning curve when we started using Iomega products."

Multimedia and Many Floppies

Another way teachers incorporate technology into their curriculum is by teaching students how to develop multimedia documents and Web sites using Avid Cinema and Hyperstudio. Both applications incorporate graphics, text, video and audio into documents and home pages. At the end of each computer session, students must store their documents until the next time because the computers are shared with so many other students. These files, however, are much larger than the capacity of a normal floppy disk, which holds 1.44MB of data. Saving the projects to multiple floppy disks would be a whole different challenge for teachers and students. Again, the norm is to save these files to an Iomega Zip disk.

"We’ve been very happy with the Iomega media. I haven’t seen anything else out there that can compare with it. We looked at different solutions and the this solution was the one that worked best for us."

Iomega Corp.
Roy, UT
(801) 332-1000

This article originally appeared in the 02/01/2000 issue of THE Journal.