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Natural Disasters, Past and Present, Keep School Tech Officials Busy

Natural disasters such as Hurricane Sandy, which tonight is bearing down on the Mid-Atlantic, can inflict significant damage on a school system's digital hardware and network infrastructure.

We hope, of course, that those of you in Sandy's path will see only limited damage. But for whatever digital repairs and reconstruction you might find necessary when cleanup begins later this week, the Consortium for School Networking is reminding its members that it can help, in the form of information and tools from its IT Crisis Preparedness Initiative. The initiative was launched in 2008 in response to Hurricane Katrina.

The Washington-based CoSN sent resources from the initiative to its members in the states that figure to be most affected by the storm, according to a press release issued today.

"Given the number of states and local communities impacted by the storm, we wanted to remind school leaders that there are resources to help them plan for disaster recovery," said Keith Krueger, CEO of CoSN, in the release. "Crisis preparedness and recovery are vital to protect and maintain information and IT infrastructure, from hardware and software to critical data, including student records and payroll information."

• Meanwhile, as the Joplin, Mo., school district continues to rebuild from the devastating tornado that killed more than 150 people in May of 2011, the Joplin Globe reports that technology director Traci House is among those involved in the process of selecting furniture for the district's new, yet-to-open high school.

You'll remember House and others in Joplin from our look at how the district used a 1-to-1 laptop program as part of its district rebuilding effort after the tornado completely leveled five of the district's 20 school buildings.

District leaders have already visited three potential manufacturers, who paid travel expenses for each trip. House traveled along on one trip, no doubt, because the district's goal is to select a furniture maker that can provide pieces that foster the kind of collaborative, technology-enhanced educational structures the district is looking to create.

In the interim, Joplin has split its high school students between two buildings, including a campus where architects refashioned an empty big box store in the town's mall. That campus included several spaces meant to foster independent student collaboration, including tables where students could stand and plug their laptops into LCD display screens.

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