How did things get so bad? Like that of many others, the condition of the technology in our district has declined to the point of continuing frustration. Our recent reality has been a districtwide hodge-podge of hardware, software, and operating systems ranging from Mac OS 8.6 to Windows XP. We were at best standing still. Decentralized decision making and purchasing; resistance to change; limited funding at the federal, state, and local levels; and two failed technology referendums contributed to the increasing obsolescence of district technology. There were pockets of improvement. We funded two secondary labs with Microsoft settlement money. (The settlements resulted from class action lawsuits brought by consumers against Microsoft Corp. alleging abuse of power to inflate prices. There’s more on this at www.qeddata.com/MarketKno/FundInfo/MicrosoftSettlement.pdf if you’re interested.) Creative teachers received grants to use technology innovatively. And special education funds helped purchase PCs largely for teacher use. Elementary schools benefited from the generosity of parent and community groups. Funding limitations and inequities had created in-district haves and have-nots.
For the most part we were limping along with limited enthusiasm for implementing new ideas in the curriculum. There was an increasingly negative attitude toward technology; some teachers were reluctant to use it even for low-tech PowerPoint projects. The reality of our situation became especially apparent to media specialists when elementary students could not use an online children’s encyclopedia and high school teachers could not update classroom websites without browser failure. Media staff members were spending an increasing amount of time on tech support instead of helping students and teachers be effective users of information and technology. The need for change was obvious. Even this longtime Mac user and champion knew we had to do something. I hope that by sharing our district’s story I can help media and technology specialists in similar situations remain … well … a little less discouraged.
Change Happens Slowly
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