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EdTech Update





BFTP: Warning to all parents - don't let your children grow up to be readers

Parents, let me give you some advice you need to act on now! If you wait too long, you will suffer.

Do not, under any circumstance, make readers out of your children. Here is the sad, but true story of the mistake I made. Let it be a warning to you....

I found my daughter, even as an infant, loved to be read to. Bedtime stories, middle of the day stories, stories read by grandparents - you name it, she ate it up. Cranky day - a little Scrawny Tawny Lion made things OK.

She started getting books as gifts. The ones she loved the most she saved. Why did I not see this early on?

She read before she started school and continued to read voraciously throughout school. I am ashamed to say, I encouraged this, insisting she have a book to read when we traveled. I was even proud of her high reading scores and interest she showed in books. And of course, she continued to collect more books.

When she started college, I should have realized, there was a problem. Her books came with her. Just a few boxes, but, hey, doesn't everyone have a few favorite books to keep around?  I missed so many warning signs!

As college progressed, the book collecting habit grew worse. Each move to a new dorm room or apartment included a growing number of book boxes. Even if they weren't labeled you could tell them from the others - even the small ones were heavy as gold bullion. (And I don't remember her staying in any place that fewer than three flights of stairs to climb!)

In college, my daughter met a man who shared her obsession - another book collector. And now there are two grandchildren who seem to adding to the family book collection. OK, OK, I will admit that I've even give the grandsons a book or two, but come on!

As a father who spent the last couple days helping his daughter and her family move, I have to warn all parents to take action before it is too late. Turn your kids onto video games, e-books, even television watching. If you don't  each move your children make means a visit to the chiropractors.

I am grateful that my beautiful daughter has never broken my heart.

But she has sure done some damage to my back!

Original post July 29, 2010


After 20+ years, why are schools still scared of the Internet?

A friend recently e-mailed me a question asking what to do about a staff member who refuses to sign her school board's Internet Acceptable Use Policy. Whaaaa????

My response:

Is your AUP board-adopted policy? If so, she does not have to sign it to be bound by it. When one signs a teaching contract (or any employment contract) one is agreeing to abide by school board policy. Why are teachers required to sign the AUP and not every board policy? I would ask. 

If this is some document the tech department has created, she probably doesn't have to sign it. I suppose you could take away her Internet privileges, if she doesn't. ;-)

As my friend suggested, the requirement that the Acceptable Use Policy be signed separately is a "a holdover from the 'technology is a spooky new dangerous entity for which we need special rules and regulations' days."

So just how long will it take before schools stop seeing the Internet as a threat rather than an asset? A a permanent part of our world, our culture, our education?

But then again we still have to have Banned Books Week since some adults in schools are still afraid of print. And that's been around a lot longer than the Internet.





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Changing the tires on a moving car

29. Philosophy on implementing large technology systems: I'd rather be optimistic than right

Pardon my French, but implementing, changing or even upgrading any complex technology system is a son of a bitch. I have seen people who are strong, happy and resilient reduced to tears during such processes.

Keep the following in mind.
  • The system will eventually work.
  • There’s an important purpose for the change.
  • People will not want to go back to the previous system after they have had a chance to get familiar with the new system.
  • No amount of training will ever be enough for some people.
  • It’s not just you - businesses, universities, and technology centers experience problems as well.

I try to remind my boss that a large technology implementation should never evaluated until it has been in place for at least a year.

Keep the faith. Be optimistic.

                               from Machines Are the Easy Part, People Are the Hard Part (free download!)

Yippee. For the third time in my technology director career, I have the honor of managing a change of student information systems. (See DIPS and home access, 10-28-2007)


For those readers who may not work in schools, the student information system (SIS) is that complex database that does a few minor things like keep track of student grades, attendance, discipline incidents, course histories, medical records, and schedules. It is used as the data source for other databases that involve transportation and food service and assessments and learning management systems and adaptive learning programs and HR and finance and payroll and special education programs and library systems and a whole raft of other things that require usernames. Teachers, administrators, secretaries, librarians, and increasingly students and parents all use it on a daily basis. The data it holds need to be clean and accurate and up-to-date in order to use that data to file reports to the state which results in funding coming back to the district.

The SIS is a very, very big deal.

We don't have a choice in changing SISs since our current SIS will no longer be supported in two years. And since next year will be an even busier, potentially more chaotic year due to some grade realignments and other big changes, we are going bite the bullet and do a mid-year transition. This year. Were I writing the bullet points in the opening quote today I would add

  • There is never a good time to implement a large technology system - only less bad times.

While this process will be like the proverbial "changing tires on a moving car" I believe it will be less traumatic than many will anticipate. The new system will be instantly better. We have good support from our current SIS provider. Data will transfer. We have good staff in place. The need for adequate PD at all levels is a given among stakeholders. And just last year we changed email systems mid-year and lived to tell the tale. We have confidence.

This is probably a good thing we are making this change. Some of us were getting a little bored.