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A unified "cloud" brings resources and applications together on one web desktop: Stoneware's webNetwork gives Marion County (FL) users access to files, applications and reports on-demand, anywhere and on any device.

School districts are clusters of disconnected technology, digital assets, web applications, third-party software and online services. For teachers, students and even parents, many of these applications need to be available outside of school hours and even outside of school itself.

The School Board of Marion County, FL., led by its director of technology and information systems, Scott Hansen, addressed this problem by implementing Stoneware's webNetwork. The system creates a framework for accessing all digital assets and applications through a web browser regardless of where you are or what device you are on.

Stoneware's unified cloud platform brings together local systems and data with online application services into a single desktop delivered through a web browser.

The framework created by Stoneware is part of a vision Hansen and Marion County have for their 41,250 students and 6,000 employees--a vision of a digital learning environment, accessible anywhere on any device.

Marion County Schools began a BYOD initiative three years ago, but Hansen said "we weren't fully leveraging our infrastructure."

"It really solved a major problem for our school district," said Hansen. "We had no way of easily pulling in various applications, including grades and other resources, and making them available beyond the school walls. With webNetwork, we could place all those resources in a framework, which allows you to increase usage and extend your investment."

For instance, webNetwork gives Marion County high school students unified access to a variety of resources, applications and sites, including class grade reports, cloud-based document collaboration and storage, an online library system, a website to prepare for state assessment tests and an online study guide for college admissions tests. The system also provides teachers and students with access to teaching and learning applications, and administrators have access to payroll services and other business platforms.

The rollout to staff began in August 2011 and was extended to students in September. Currently more than 20,000 students and staff have access, And parents have access to the Parent Portal. What each person sees is based on roles and permissions set up in Active Directory (AD). "The integration with our active directory structure has been seamless," said Hansen. "This allows IT to leverage existing technology to manage the webNetwork framework."

The other major advantage of webNetwork is single sign-on. Each application, online service or integrated system has its own password and often different password requirements, but with webNetwork, these are handled securely in the background. "We are able to create efficiencies, reduce help desk calls and increase usage of applications because users are not challenged with passwords all the time," Hansen said.

In partnership with Intel and Lenovo, Stoneware is developing "client-aware" technology that exploits features on new Intel[R] processor-based systems that detects what kind of device the user has and maximizes content for it. So a smartphone user and a laptop user can go to the same resource, but each will get content delivered in a way that is optimal for their device.

This eliminates a problem facing many districts that initiated a BYOD and realized they had to "dumb down" content so all devices could take advantage, according to Paige Johnson, education strategist with Intel. Instead she says, "client-aware cloud optimizes to get the best out of each device, from phone to desktop.

Learn more about webNetwork at www.stone-ware.com.

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Title Annotation:SPONSORED CASE STUDY
Publication:District Administration
Date:May 1, 2012
Words:567
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