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EdTech Update





BFTP: Harsh? Your policy on computer accidents

This week was the "roll-in" of Chromebooks from our graduating seniors. Our other students keep their devices over the summer in our district. It's prime time for real and (mostly) imagined concerns about student carelessness with equipment. How does your school handle accidental damage to the devices in your 1:1 program? Personally, I'd give every kid the benefit of the doubt just as I give every teacher who spills coffee on the keyboard a pass. Anyway, here is an old post related to computer damage....


Here's a e-mail question I got this week:

Ethical senario for you. Teacher has a laptop from school. The teacher knocks water onto the keyboard zappying the logic board. My boss is charging the teacher for the repair. The teacher is burning my boss in effigy in front of everyone in that school for the charge. I think my boss is in line. Just wondering how you would handle it. Are we too harsh here?

And my response:

As mad as it sometimes makes me, I try to take the high road and accept accidents happen to everyone. We always assume that professionals take professional care of equipment and repair it without question. At least the first time (or two.)
What do you think? Any good rules of thumb for who pays for repairs in your school? If a teacher got into an accident with a school vehicle would he/she be responsible for repairs? Is saving a dollars in a repair budget worth engendering ill will from the entire teaching staff?


Alpha wolf syndrome and why it hurts technology efforts

... truly great technology teachers know what things beginning learners really need to know to make them productive and what things might be conveyed that only serve to impress a captive audience with the technologist’s superior intellect. (“The email address is comprised of the username, the domain name, the subdomain name, the computer name, all referenced in a lookup table at the NIC.” Like that.) It’s an alpha wolf thing, especially common with males. Be aware of it, and strive as an instructor instead to use charm and a caring demeanor with the pack to achieve dominance. Seven qualities of highly effective technology trainers, Indispensable Teacher's Guide to Computer Skills.

Yeah, you still run into the wanna-be alpha wolves in ed tech circles now and then. I've been seeing it a lot when talking security issues. Somehow, the sales folks think that the more terms they bandy about related to making one's data safe and network reliable and the more frightening the consequences of even the slightest oversight, the more likely I am to scramble for a PO and an account code.

As a pretty good bullshitter, myself, I am pretty sure that the sales folks who will later turn the actual work of doing a security analysis over to engineers don't really understand about 90% of their own jargon. Ask a question and listen to the hemming and hawing over a response.

The danger of substituting tech-speak for actual English actually has a serious consequences. If I cannot make myself clearly and precisely understood in regard to network and data security, I will not be able to convince the powers that be that little things like redundancy and back ups and updated servers and staff security training is necessary - as is the funding for it.

It's fairly common knowledge that underfunding in technology is often the result of poor communication skills by those of us who work in technology. We majored in computer science after all, not English! (Well, some of us majored in English.) 

Just as I urged technology staff development instructors years ago to avoid the alpha wolf syndrome and replace it with clear and precise messaging, so I would advise technology leaders as well. You won't get a budget if you can't help others understand how the services it buys clearly benefit them. Can the TLAs (three letter acronyms).


The librarian and the tech integrationist - compete or complement?

I've been asked to do an interesting workshop this fall. An association of international schools has asked me to help answer the question "What are the mutual roles of the school librarian and the building technology integration specialist?"

For buildings that have both positions, the lines of responsibility are blurring.

Library media specialists are increasingly instrumental in providing and teaching students how to use digital resources for problem-solving along with assisting teachers in curating these resources to be used for instructional purposes.

Technology integration specialists have seen the ISTE Standards for Students become less and less about "how to use technology" and more about how students can use technology to collaborate, create, and problem-solve using those technologies.

Schools are repurposing "media center" spaces into learning commons, productivity centers, and makerspaces. Who is in charge of these areas?

Who supports teachers as they work to incorporate new technologies (and catch up with older technologies) in the classroom? Who best fits ISTE role of "coach" as defined by Standards for Coaches?

Who evaluates and selects digital resources and tools?

Are there unique roles for each position (book stuff for the librarians, hardware stuff for the tech integrationists)? Or should there be a single job description that includes both?

In 1998 I managed to insult both librarians and technologists with a snarky little colum called "Librarians Are From Venus; Technologists Are From Mars" playing off common stereotypes of both positions.

I would like to think that in the past two decades we have moved beyond viewing each other as competing species, but view our roles as complimentary.

But the important question for many schools still remains "How do we define the role of each position?"

I don't have an easy answer but I'll be doing some research and keeping my ears open. And I hope during the workshop to facilitate discussions with representatives of both groups which will lead to  useful ideas.

Anything, you dear readers, care to share on the topic?