Behind the scenes: Technology at RCMS


Mr.Hale with a new stack of computers for tech ed.

Carl Chen, Writer

Everyone in this school uses technology everyday, but not many of the students  know about the hidden technology that secretly performs important jobs for RCMS.

“Without the router and the wireless controller, we wouldn’t have internet in schools,” Mr. Michael Hale said.

Technology in schools is important than you may think, and it has a long history. Without it, we would have way less opportunities in schools.

Before modern technology was introduced to schools, people used mimeo machines to duplicate paperwork by forcing ink through a stencil onto paper. There were not any group projects done online because internet was yet to be developed and used in schools.

Courtesy of Wikipedia
Mimeo machines used around the ’80s

During the ’80s, schools only had computers in the computer lab for students to type on. If videos were necessary for classroom purposes, they were played on projector reels. Libraries did not have digital catalogs either; instead, they had paper folders with author names listed alphabetically. You wouldn’t be able to know whether or not a book is available.

Since then, there have been a lot of modern technological advancements such as the G-Suite. Before Google Cloud was added to schools, it was difficult to share info with students and other teachers. Now days with the G-suite and giant servers that the county have, it is way easier to hold and use students’ info.

“Google Cloud is a huge advance,” said school-based technology specialist Ms. Patricia Silverthorn.

RCMS has always been improving on technology use. Staff teams refresh laptops every year and add more technology if needed.

The cost of classroom technologies is quite expensive, considering the huge quantity we need for every student. Our school has around 900 laptops, which cost around $550 each, and 250 iPads, which cost around $500 each. The total cost of just these devices is $620,000.

However, the benefits of technology in classrooms are worth the cost. Students can collaborate on group projects, express their learning through a different way such as Google Classrooms or Google Slides.

Technologies are very important in RCMS classrooms, but they have bigger uses behind the scene. Mr. Hale is in charge of putting software onto laptops, and one software called “PDQ deploy” helps him out.

“Before the software, I had to log on to every computer and install the programs,” Mr. Hale said. It was very tiring to install software that way, but now with PDQ Deploy, Mr. Hale can simply connect every computer to his and install it through his computer. That is way easier.

Inside Ms. Jennifer Miley’s office, there is a giant board of teachers and teams. It was used a long time ago to organize schedules. It was Ms. Miley’s job to create 1,500 schedules, all by hand. But now with SIS, she is able to create the master schedule just by putting the names and the electives into SIS. Not only that, SIS even automatically sends the schedule to students. Now, she updates the teachers’ names on the board every year.

Carl Chen
Ms. Miley standing next to her gigantic board for schedule making.

Not only does technology help teachers and students on education, it also help improve students’ comfort in RCMS. We have a massive air conditioning system where the technology auto senses the temperature and adjusts it to our favor.

Technology is also used in FCPS to help students with special needs. For example, we have special iPads for people with bad sight. There are even little robots with remote controls that can send help to students when needed, although these robots are really rare in FCPS. These technologies make students’ lives easier by helping them to connect to the world.

The county refreshes software used by FCPS every year to make it more efficient and easy for the teachers to use. As RCMS continues to advance, there are a lot of plans for better use of technologies.

FCPS high schools have a system where every student is assigned a laptop from the school. The students will keep their very own laptops and carry them around everyday.

FCPS is planning on applying this system to every middle school in FCPS as well. This way of distributing technology has a lot of benefits. There will be no need for computer carts and students can keep bookmarks easily. “I think everyone should have a electronic device to improve collaboration on one another.”

There is also an improvement in classes involving technologies. For example, Ms. Silverthorn said there will be another class involving coding and robotics introduced next year. There will be a full time teacher for this course.

“I think it will be a popular course,” Ms. Silverthorn said.