IN-DEPTH: How Leander ISD’s IT team handles tech problems

Education

LEANDER, Texas (KXAN) — Virtual learning for the Leander Independent School District was supposed to start for all students Thursday, but that’s not going to happen.

Just hours before Leander ISD started the first two days of school for high school students, Leander ISD Chief Technology Officer Jason Miller told KXAN about the challenges school IT departments are facing.

“In my years, this is the most pressing challenge that has ever come across an IT organization, probably across the country,” Miller said.

Technology problems with a vendor forced the district to cancel high school classes Thursday and Friday. There was a problem with district-issued laptops connecting to the internet. Elementary and middle school students were not affected.

Around 10:30 a.m. Thursday, the district had more issues. Students in the sixth grade couldn’t access accounts, and students in grade 7-12, plus their parents or guardians, couldn’t change passwords in the district’s Home Access Center, the district said.

Even before those problems, Miller said calls to the district’s IT department for tech help were way up.

“The number of tickets and help that is being required on the help desk side is four or five times what it typically is at the start of school,” Miller said. And he expects that to continue to grow with the start of school.

Miller has added staff to his IT team, which is now up to 80 people. The help desk has added staff, as well, going from just three employees to a staff now of 15.

Matt Prause, the director of hardware and software support with Leander ISD, says when someone does call the help desk, sometimes they can solve it with a quick reboot. But if troubleshooting the problem does not work, that’s when the IT team gets involved.

“Sometimes it is a matter of remote installing something for them and other times we can take over the computer and walk them through their concerns,” Prause explained.

If that doesn’t work they can always bring the computer in to have it worked on, but the district will require appointments.

“If they do experience technical difficulties, there are people that will help. It might just take a little longer right now,” Miller said.

Leander ISD loaned out more than 7,800 Chromebook computers to elementary students, and 18,500 laptops to middle school and high school students for the year.

For a step-by-step process of what to do if you are experiencing computer issues, you can visit the Leander ISD COVID-19 technology support page.

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