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BELLTONES: Technoholics Anonymous?

By Mary Ann Bell - Posted Jul 1, 2006
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Sometimes I picture my­self standing up in front of a group and saying, "My name is Mary Ann, and I'm a technoholic." To my own surprise, I somehow morphed from a nervous Luddite in the early 1980s to a full-fledged technophile by the year 2000. Because of my present condition, I am easy prey for come-ons hyping the latest gadgets and applications that promise to amuse and delight.

As a librarian I eagerly used digital cameras, smartboards, Inspiration software, and other products in their early days, the middle to late 1990s. Presently, I am lusting after the latest and greatest small computers, even though I acquired a tablet computer just last year. I named my iPod and carry it and my digital camera at all times, not to mention my phone (which needs updating, but my contract just does not understand). But enough about me! I really want to talk about what this fixation with all things techie has to do with education.

Too often, it seems, schools are falling for similar temptations to salivate over the latest and greatest hardware, software, and gadgets. When the new goodies show up on campus, they are eagerly unpacked (or not) and then all too often forgotten soon thereafter. Why does this happen? I have several ideas based on my own observations and experiences. I also did some reading on the topic, and, as I often do, I checked in with colleagues on listservs.

Wasteful spending is not new to large organizations. When I first started teaching, I served as a junior high department chair in several schools, which made me aware of purchasing from the start of my career. I noticed back then that a lot of items were being bought but seldom used, such as workbooks and other consumables, SRA kits, sets of books, etc. As a librarian, I worked very hard to make wise and considered choices of all materials that I selected. With the advent of technology, the problem of unwise purchases seemed to me to increase dramatically. Some of the reasons for this are as follows:

Poor Planning


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