Somehow, I ended up being notified about this post yesterday. I’m in good company indeed with those who were originally tagged.
It’s an interesting area to look at and brought back memories of various things that I’ve been involved with over the years.
I might as well date myself and indicate I go back much further than this – to the era of the Icon Computer where not only were the decisions not classroom based but by the Ministry of Education for an entire province. As a teacher, I also was the technician installing new computers and software, connecting a printer, setting up spoolers, etc.
Of course, over the years, things have changed as grant money allowed individual school districts to set direction for technology use. There were a few different players in the Grant Eligible field and decisions were still influenced at the provincial level if you were going to use their money.
Eventually, the decisions became more and more difficult as classroom technology became more than the computer in the corner. It involved portable technology, various displays, the presence of tablets, internet drops, wireless access, programmable devices, BYOD, and so on.
There also was a time when licensing software was crucial for success. I was a member of the OSAPAC committee for a while and we made recommendations to the Ministry for software to be licensed. At that point, we had to consider the various platforms in use in the province, the official languages, etc. We were also keenly aware that recommendations would only be successful if they had a purpose and so every licensed piece of software was analyzed for the curriculum expectations that it could be used to address. It was a very time consuming and intensive process.
As the number of devices in school districts increased, the planning process became so much more involved. In the case with my district, we had Computers in Education School Contacts (CIESCs – one per school) who would spend a full day of active professional learning with me for a day once every other month. I was able to introduce the group to new software and ideas and they provided regular and frank feedback to help set direction.
Amidst all this, there was another player. As the number of devices expanded, so did the need for support. It was at this point that I ended up becoming more of a mediator between the technology side and the classroom side. It made for interesting times with everyone truly having a horse in the race.
There always were wins and losses. A great win was getting Firefox installed on the image as an alternative to Internet Explore and getting sites like Twitter unblocked. A great loss was me hijacking a few computers headed for recycling that I installed Edubuntu on and showing that they still had lots of life left in them. That was, until “it won’t run Microsoft Office”. This was, of course, in a time where there had to be a local application for everything; things are much different in a web-connected classroom where excellent resources don’t need to be installed – just access them online. As an aside, I still use and love Libre Office when I need something locally installed.
Resources are evaluated and chosen all the time. You’d like to think that every facet and implication is addressed to come up with what’s best for teachers and students. And, most certainly, reliability and repair turnaround has to be part of any planning and acquisition process.
I hope that the original message that started all this wasn’t entirely true in its face value. More than ever, partnerships and working together are needed for success. Particularly with technology, decisions have to be supported with professional learning opportunities. School districts can hardly stand still and always need to be looking for the answers to the questions that technology addresses. But acquisition without support and a plan for strong educational use is just throwing money away.
Without everyone having a voice, you’re going to come up short.