After trying everything, what’s the plan now?

Ever since there have been computers, we’ve tried to shoe horn them into the classroom, thinking that the appropriate use of them is somehow good for kids.  I think most would truthfully argue that we haven’t been completely successful.  Why don’t we stop then?  Answered above – we think that they are somehow good for kids.

Everyone in education has somehow been exposed to the successes and failures of the next best implementation plan, either as a student or part of a school/district faculty.  Don’t ever for a moment recognize that we haven’t stopped learning!

Have we tried everything?  Well, let’s see…

  • we’ve used computer cards to code and actually outsourced the actual processing to a local university;
  • we’ve set up the Bionic Beaver with a local fileserver and a few workstations daisy chained to the server which had a printer attached;
  • we’ve installed MS-DOS on the Icon computer to run “real software”;
  • we’ve fund raised ad nauseam to purchase the latest personal computers to run within the school;
  • we’ve got central funding and networked computers in a lab and lined up students to march down to the lab (after booking it, of course, and then hoping that there were enough workable machines to make the lesson worthwhile);
  • we’ve attached these networked computers to the internet because it was handy for looking stuff up;
  • we’ve realised (or at least some have) that there’s more than can be done on the internet than looking stuff up;
  • we’ve wired schools with drops in classrooms so that we could complement the lab computers with local machines so that they would help out with lessons;
  • we’ve designed plans to pull ethernet cables to portable classrooms at the same time electricity is pulled so that those rooms aren’t disadvantaged;
  • we’ve installed wireless networks because the scenario above involved pulling more wire when the number of classroom computers exceeded the number of connections;
  • we’ve purchased carts because one or two computers didn’t suit the purpose and we wanted to take the lab and move it to any location in the school;
  • we’ve connected all the computers to a local fileserver so that there is a single spot to store all student work and that could be accessible from any computer in the school;
  • we’ve connected all the computers to a fileserver stored in a data centre somewhere outside the building so that it’s accessible from anywhere and IT departments could provide better service;
  • we’ve connected all the computers to something on the web knowing that we could access it at home, in libraries, or the classroom and let someone else maintain the servers for us;
  • we’ve given up on computers and bought tablets because they had apps and could mostly do all of the other stuff;
  • we’ve wavered on tablets because they don’t have keyboards and can’t do everything that we want;
  • we’ve decided that we can’t be all things to all people and invited students to bring their own technology so that their device can go home or to the mall or to the classroom to access their work everywhere;
  • along the way, we’ve added devices, fallen in and out of love with printers, clicking things, interactive white boards, streaming devices, scanners, electronic pens, wireless and not wireless pointing devices, internal/external speakers, headphones, voice recognition, …
  • don’t get me started on software!

And the price tag is?

Hopefully, nobody from the board of trustees is using a trusty abacus to do a tally.

Yet, we continue to do this and come up with the latest and greatest plan so that the next iteration of planning will be the perfect one.

A couple of years ago, the Western Regional Computer Advisory Committee invited Doug Johnson to address the group about technology and, more importantly, why and how it’s good for kids.  I’d been a fan of his Blue Skunk blog before the presentation and continue to follow it to this date.  Unfortunately, Doug had to work on Boxing Day but he did take the time to share his thinking about his latest implementation plan in this post “Out of the lab, off the cart, into the classroom“.

In the post, he describes a solution for his district’s future as a hybrid of many of the points above.  It’s an interesting read and ponder.  Will he finally get the perfect solution?

After all, we know that technology is somehow good for kids.

I appreciate the fact that he’s transparent in his planning, thinking, and sharing.  All of those in his district should now know “the plan”. 

How about your district?  Do you know your plan?  How does it stack up to Doug’s?  Do you have a better implementation plan?

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2 Replies to “After trying everything, what’s the plan now?”

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