Fellow Classroom 2.0 Colleagues,

A post was submitted by a member of the community expressing frustration with not having working computers. Here is what was said:

The problem in my school is that the technology is not always working and not every room has the same amount of technology equipment. The first step is to make sure that there is an equipment standard. Once all the necessary equipment is in the room, then implement your program.

As we really discuss Web 2.0 and all the potentials of it, I know that there are still concerns about the fundamental challenges when infusing technology into the classroom and they are as followed:
•working computers
•unwilling teachers
•unclear visions of the role of technology
•finding time
•lack of resources
•lack of funds
•lack of support
I can go on. But I won't ;-)

One question that will lead to much discussions (I hope). What are you doing in your district or just you to address the above concerns?

Please share your strategies.


Antwon Lincoln
Confessions of a Technology Leader Podcast

Tags: 2.0, computer, development, frustration, staff, support, web

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In our district (Iroquois Central Schools):

1.) Our superintendent has created a technology reserve fund, which offers annual resources for the purchasing of hardware. These resources are aidable, and thus help to replenish the reserve annually.

2.) We have also established a teacher on special assignment to provide the staff the technical support from an instructional vantage.

3.) We have focused our hardware purchases on laptops, acquring nearly 400 laptops within the past two years. These are positioned on mobile carts and have provided a tremendous opportunity to tech integration.

4.) We have developed a district wide set of technology benchmarks, which focus on 21st century skill sets, and technological proficiencies. These benchmarks were designed by a team of teachers (K-12).

5.) We have established an Action Planning Committee in the high school, made of teachers, who focus on the proliferation of technology integration that aligns appropriately with the districts benchmarks. This group organizes and leads staff development training.

6.) The district has devoted a tremendous amount of time during staff development to the integration of technology.

7.) The district has begun to utilize a collaborative community of practice in the form of a wiki, to help share best practices and support the districts initiatives.

8.) The district has begun to utilize ning as a platform for professional growth and study.

9.) Most importantly, the district's initiative to integrate technology in classroom instruction has not been compartmentalized into a single initiative. All activities and discussion regarding technology, is within the context of the other district initiatives.
I like the idea of the tech reserve fund - I assume it cannot be touched once it's created? I will float that by my Tech Committee and see if we can work on that for next year.
Schools could make technology a line item in their budget. This could include:
Refreshing computer every 3 to 5 years.
Software support
Technical support
Training (i.e. conferences)

The hard part is creating this possibility during this fiscal climate. Times are bad
______
If you are from California, we need your help. As you know technology funds are in jeopardy. Help us by speaking up! Contact your local and state representative to make sure that he or she makes technology funding a priority in our schools.

Please take a moment to make a difference!

Click on the link
.This link will take you to the California-Using Educator site - CUE. There you can read up on how this will affect us and what you can do to Take Action!

Thanks
Antwon
Another great site for making your voice heard is the ETAN Site http://www.edtechactionnetwork.org/ . On the front page is a place to put your zip code. The site will automatically create an email addressed to your representatives. It even has a draft email about specific Ed Tech Policy issues that you can customize. If you have not done this, please do. It only takes a couple of minutes. When I visited my representatives in Washington they confirmed that the amount of email that they receive makes a difference in how they vote.
Thanks for posting the ETAN information. I use this site regularly and appreciate the updates I get.
Speaking for myself, we do have a line item - a significant one. And when we had building issues this year and last, that more than 30% was cut from that line item each year, including the replacement cycle (only in it's 2nd year, and I fought hard to create that). As you say, times are bad. In our case our community's unwillingness to fund a school renovation or new school, 3 years running, means that our building issues are causing money to be taken from Tech. I'm liking the idea of a reserve fund which must be dedicated to technology -
Thanks for posting this list. Very complete and helpful. I thought #9 Most importantly, the district's initiative to integrate technology in classroom instruction has not been compartmentalized into a single initiative. All activities and discussion regarding technology, is within the context of the other district initiatives. District's that think like that may get the most out of their technology initiatives.

Antwon
First of all,I am at an elementary school and work as the Instructional Technology Specialist. I'd like to share some thoughts on this topic. We have a Media/Technology Committee and we meet 4 times a year. We sometimes create ad hoc committees to address specific issues. Representation on the committee comes from every team of teachers and non instructional.

Communication is a key. I have an intranet that I set up that is password protected. Information crucial to the day to day tasks at school is provided here. Copies of forms, resource links, and technology news is a sample of what is included. This way the information is accessible 24/7. One difficulty ties in with those you have listed...can't make them read what is there.

I report to our Team Leaders and School Advisory Committee regularly to give technology updates. I created a technology blog this year in lieu of a hard copy newsletter to parents. PTO is also an important element to addressing technology needs, although not every school may have one.

I created tech repair slips and placed them in the front office and on the way into the teacher workroom. If there is a problem with equipment I request a written request or an email. My response time is usually 1-2 days, depending on projects I am currently involved in.

Your school/district needs to have a vision and a mission statement, as well as include technology in your school improvement plan.

I provide technology training in large and small groups as well as individualized instruction. Follow up is a key to any staff development training. Participants are given tasks to complete with the entire focus on integration into the classroom. This year I provided training and gave help on creating blogs. We currently have 14 posted and there was only mine last year.

Be aware that change takes time. 8 years ago when I came to this school, it had just received networking. The goal at that time was to use email for communication. We had one LCD projector. Teachers had a desktop computer. Today we have two projectors for each team of 4 teachers, 44 teachers have MacBooks and 10 are next in line for an upgrade from their iBook. Teachers are writing blogs, creating web pages, and using digital tools in the classroom. I am proud to have had a role in this growth.

There is an Instructional Technology Specialist assigned to each school in our District (Pasco County Schools, FL) at this time. We manage the school network, servers, and web site. We support our staff with technical needs. We do minor tech repair, reimage computers, and assist in classrooms. We provide tech training. We have District support on integration and hardware repair.
Sadly, non-working computers (rather, old comptuers) is a big issue in my K-8 school. While I was successful in creating a 6-yr replacement cycle in my budget a couple of years ago (it was a big step) ... major problems with our very old building have created budget freezes this year and last. The community (of which I am a resident) hasn't stepped up to renovate/replace the building, so the building issues are causing technology problems.

On one hand, I was able to bring in $55,000 in grants to provide netbooks and SMART boards for specific projects, which is more than half of my normal budget for a year. But, that doesn't help the teachers and labs which still have old computers, because I can't use federal grant funds to replace frozen budgeted items. I don't even get to spend my eRate reimbursements, that goes back into the general fund!

Another big tech support issue is platform standardization. I manage ~200 computers and 10 servers by myself, with help from my admin asst and a few teacher tech leaders who receive a stipend. Every piece of hardware requires a different image ... so standardizing my purchases on consistent hardware is very important to me.

I am also moving to Terminal Services in many of the labs - the thin clients are easy to deploy and then I need only to maintain software and policies on the server itself.
For those with old computers that just do not cut it anymore, you can tern them into thin clients. A thin client basically is a computer that completely runs off of a server computer. The terminal computer does not even have to have a hard drive. The computer does not even need a cd drive/floppy drive as long as it is capable of booting from the network. The CPU speed does not matter because the server does the processing. You of course need a decent server. But it is much cheaper to buy one decent server than many desktop machines. And if you have no budget this might be the only way to go. One good free and open source terminal server program is K12LTSP. You can read more about it here: http://k12ltsp.org/mediawiki/index.php/Main_Page

As for unwilling teachers, many times it is because the teachers just don't know how to use or how to implement the technology. Having inservices with them definitely help. Some teachers may just not want to use technology because it doesn't suit them. And perhaps there is nothing wrong with that.

Training student technicians also helps to free up time. Many students are more than willing to learn and help out when something goes wrong.
Mandy,
Your comment on student being technicians is a great idea! We are looking to have a Mouse Squad started for one of our campuses that has struggled with technology support. Not only will it provide the school site with tech support on the most basic level, it will also provide students with a since of contributing to the solution to the site technology challenges.

What is a Mouse Squad?
MOUSE Squad is a members-only website, for students and teachers participating in MOUSE's student led technical support program. If you are interested in starting the MOUSE Squad program in your school or district Click here for more information

If you are going to the CUE conference in Palm Springs California, I suggest that you look up her. She and here wonderful students will be presenting. You will be blown away by the students and what they can accomplish. Her pre-conference discussion has been set up (click here). If you can not make it, you can connect with her there. I'll see if she can post a discussion on the Classroom 2.0 site.

Her Session at CUE
Student Tech Support Leadership and Help Desk
If your school has computers but insufficient technical support personnel, consider the nonprofit MOUSE Squad Student Tech Leadership program! Hear from participating students how they provide tech support at California schools.
Saturday, March 7, 2009
1:30 - 2:30 PM
Palm Springs Convention Center - Mesquite E

Thanks Mandy to your post on the discussion!
We are in big trouble at my school. We had nothing when i came on 6 years ago (bought my own projector, my own laptop, all the cabling, etc.) We then got an EETT Grant that put 3 computers in every classroom. We've also purchased speaker systems for each room, projectors for most and Response devices for about a quarter. Now the grant is up and the computers we bought are rapidly dying. We're not sure what we're going to do.

To add to this fun little story, I have come to find that where maintenance decided to mount my projector (which, is not where I asked it to be) it sits right in the path of both heating vents in my classroom. I cannot run the projector when the heat is on! I don't control the heat (not even the off switch...) so I'm stuck whenever it comes on. I have, once again, had to bring in my own projector so I can set it up elsewhere to avoid the heat issues.

I'd argue, in light of both of these issues, that money while a problem is not nearly as much a problem as a lack of long-term planning. Our district last year hired a new tech coordinator and the guy, so far, has been awesome. I'm interested to see how he can change the culture over there to think more long term about technology.

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