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EdTech Update





BFTP: Upstream costs, downstream savings

According to this blog post, I have now been using an iPad for about five years. Had you asked me, I would have said three. I remember being shocked at the 2010 ISTE (first year name changed from NECC) conference how many attendees were already using this new and different device. From 2010...

Finding Time
Each time I pass the picture I take a few seconds to straighten it. On its single nail, heavy tread makes it tilt. I always have the extra seconds to make it straight, but I never have the precious minute needed to get the second nail to straighten it permanently. In 50 Words

One argument for teachers spending time to learn a complex technology is that once mastered, the technology will eventually result in time savings. As Zach commented on this blog, "I usually try and use the sales pitch - climb the learning curve and you save a ton of time later on."

And I too have preached this sermon for years: upstream costs = downstream savings.

But I am not sure there is any time cost/benefit formula that can be applied across the board to "technology." Taking the time to learn and create a macro for keyboarding a long and often used address seems to have an immediate and direct time savings. Learning to use Moodle to supplement a F2F class that still meets five days a week, I wonder? Or learning to use a digital camera and to edit video using iMovie and to upload the videos to server to create a source for students to watch or rewatch a lesson? Hmmmmmm, the pay back time seems pretty long to me. Value = time learning/time saved (and figure in a variable for the length of time to reach the savings).

I have two learning tasks this weekend: to figure out as much as I can about my new iPad 3G that arrived on schedule yesterday (thank you FedEx) and to experiment with GoogleWave* that we just turned on as a part of GoogleApps for Education. Will either the iPad or Wave make me** and, more importantly, my librarians and teachers more productive - short or long term? Any district technology leader ought to make these sorts of evaluations a high priority.

And, yes, I know it doesn't always have to be about productivity. I learned quickly to stream Netflix videos and find NPR broadcasts on the iPad. Nothing wrong with having fun with a new toy as well.

* Does anyone even remember what GoogleWave was about?

* I think one can make the case that the "pointy-haired" boss (like me) has some value leading a tech department. Tech "enthusiasts" may overestimate the time/value quotient. I worry when schools place professional CTOs instead of former teachers in charge of a district's tech. Good security, I'm sure, but ...

Original post May 22, 2010.


Culture on my mind


: the beliefs, customs, arts, etc., of a particular society, group, place, or time

: a particular society that has its own beliefs, ways of life, art, etc.

: a way of thinking, behaving, or working that exists in a place or organization (such as a business)

What is the difference between Iowa and yogurt? Yogurt has an active culture (old Minnesota joke)

The term culture has been much on my mind recently. As a part of my district's administrative team, I participated in two more days of cultural proficiency training - practicing viewing the cultural diversity richness of our students and community as an asset rather than a problem. A very good thing for students and adults alike.

The news has been full of culturallly significant events - the legalization of gay marriage, the upholding of the Affordable Care Act, the removal of the Confederate flag from not just the government grounds in Charlotte, but from Amazon, Target, and Apple marketplaces. Gee, the goverment can work on behalf of groups other than the 1%ers.

I can't remember a week that I felt that both our school and national cultures were actually moving, changing in a positive way. Cultural change moves at the rate of the second hand on the clock. It happens but most often it is imperceptible. And that very imperceptibility can be discouraging.

Libraries and technology can and do have a direct impact on a school's culture - both intentionally and unintentionally. In addition to the happenings I listed above, I also attended a workshop on FERPA and student data privacy, that morphed into a boogeyman lecture on online security. Somehow the dots that were being connected were that if your district policy was to let teachers independently download apps or sign up for services without district technology security approval, the next day Iranian hackers would penetrate your firewall through spoofing and steal all your employee social security numbers and student's test score data. I am a little surprised that the man giving the lecture was not wearing a helmet just because you never know when a brick will fall from the sky. (It has happened, you know.)

I am wondering how many of the hundred or so educators in attendance now will go back and try enforce draconian security policies - and thus move the school's culture to one that fears rather than embraces and uses technology to improve learning.

It's important for each of us to remember that through our actions, inactions, and statements each of us does impact the cultures in which we live and work. It's probably dangerous to forget that.

Happy week! 

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My 2014-15 Head for the Edge columns

Find below links to the full text of my 2014-15 Head for the Edge columns that appeared in Library Media Connection this year. I've added a little "teaser" to each link. I have really enjoyed writing these columns for the past 20 years and I hope that translates into others enjoying reading them.

It’s Personal” August/September 2014

The lesson I learned as a librarian was that it’s possible and useful to blend a student’s personal interests with academic standards. Making a subject relevant because it is personal, local, or topical was critical if I wanted a learner who did more than just go through the motions.

Libraries in the Age of Information Plenty” October 2014

Libraries were created in an era of information scarcity. In the form of analog materials - tablets (stone, not silicon), scrolls, folios, and bound books - knowledge and narratives were rare, expensive, and easily lost, stolen, or damaged. The librarian rightfully was the “guardian” of the temple of information, charged with protecting the contents within.

But it’s time to move on. Really.

The Librarian as Technology Integration Specialist” November/December 2014

I always said that the best librarians “swing both ways.” No, I’m talking about sexual orientation. Get your mind out of the gutter. I mean I want my schools’ librarians to be as comfortable and competent with technology and digital resources as they are with books and reading.

When Missions Diverge” January/February 2015 

What should the ethical professional do when it seems her mission and values deviate from her organization’s mission and values? What seems like a growing number of librarians and technology folks are fully committed to creating constructivist learning environments that stress collaboration, creativity, communications, authentic assessment, and personal relevance but work for schools that focus on test scores, test scores, test scores, test scores, basic skills, and conformity. Did I mention test scores?

 “Giving Up” March/April 2015

But as sad and painful as it may be, we need to start figuring out what we need to give up professionally. Every year, the school librarian’s list of responsibilities increases. Digital content specialist, curator of resources for differentiated instruction, technology integration specialist, course management system trainer, professional development provider, textbook manager, 1:1 project coordinator, school website manager - the list goes on.

Challenge of Change Agency” May/June 2015

I don't know about you, but I get little satisfaction from knowing something I've done is making others unhappy. (Except for those who turn interesting shades of red and blue.) Like most folks, I prefer days filled with compliments rather than criticisms. I know over the next few weeks I am in for some pretty long days of getting verbally beat up about installations, migrations, training (or the lack thereof), additional work, and plain old differences in how things are done. What makes things harder is that some of the complaints will be deserved.


You can find links to all my Head for the Edge columns from 1995 to 2015 on my website and Most of my Head for the Edge columns, updated and edited, can be found in my book School Libraries Head for the Edge.

Buy it and I might be able to afford a nicer nursing home one day. Thank you.