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Friday, September 12, 2014

A blast from the past…a peek into our future!

laptop cart arggh
As some of you already know, I have gone back to “work” (I’m having too much fun to call it work) as Director of Technology Integration and Support at Traders Point Christian Academy (TPCA) which my daughter attended until we left for Florida four years ago. It’s been a long time since I have felt so needed and appreciated in my long educational career. I also continue to appreciate the staff of TPCA who I had already seen serving in a ministry to my family rather than merely doing a job. For this reason, there is so much I want to do for them to return that favor!
In the time since I left Indiana, TPCA unfortunately has made little progress in the integration of technology to teaching and learning. There were some earlier attempts which apparently failed for reasons I wasn’t around to assess. In order to stabilize the situation, new school leadership had already decided to invest in a laptop cart to replace aging desktop computers which have reached the end of their useful life. Without any technology leadership in place, there really wasn’t any alternative. At the same time, the small high school time adopted a one-to-one “bring your own device” (BYOD) program to (at least) support online learning to complement its own offerings.
This is where MY learning begins because some high school students were unable to BYOD so we “borrowed” a few (our spares) laptops from the cart to lend to them and the story unfolds from there. To support standardized testing, an insufficient quantity of the ailing desktops is available so we have had to use the cart to complement those desktops which is preventing us from deploying the laptop cart. This isn’t entirely a surprise because part of the justification of the laptops is standardized testing.
In the meantime, we are learning that there is a need to “repackage” the laptop cart into smaller lots to serve the needs of either enrichment or remediation of smaller groups of students. Accordingly, we are redeploying the laptops with an (experimental) smaller cart to assess that demand as well as to (occasionally) meet the needs of standardized testing. That experiment will likely result in the deployment of all of our laptops in smaller quantities.
That experiment has also given me further insight into the “state of the art” in the integration of technology into learning. In search of better designed laptop carts than the unwieldy one we already own, I put a query on the #edchat Twitter hashtag and received NO responses. Rather than being dismayed by this apparent failure of the vaunted power of social media in teaching and learning, I realized that it is more likely that the progressive tech community on Twitter just isn’t using laptop carts anymore!
This reinforces my sense of urgency to move us up the educational  technology value chain, but I am acutely aware of the critical need to upgrade our technical and human infrastructure in order to do so. Stay tuned as we continue this quest!
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