Archive for September, 2012

Keep Digging

My notes from tonight’s school board meeting.

About two months ago when I last spoke to the school board, I predicted that implementing this iPad project would probably result in headaches and trouble for not only your IT staff, but the school corporation as a whole.  This is not meant to be an “Ha Ha, the IT guy says ‘I told you so'” moment, because I feel the failings of this project show something far more troubling.  
This weekend, an email was sent out to the school corporation about the various technology projects.  As an IT professional, the points brought up are clearly self inflicted wounds from this iPad rollout.  And the suggestions made will not improve the overall problem.  
iPad usage
shutting down the schools internet access during lunch time
Proposed solution is to turn off internet access during this time to the middle schools
This will interfere and add unnecessary steps to students and will not improve the bandwidth situation.
Most of the bandwidth usage is to youtube and from the common area
My point is, instead of putting the blame/fix on your teachers, does anyone have a ladder and know how to unplug an access point?
Teachers unprepared to use the iPads in the classrooms
Student being told that notes he took on the iPad could not be used on open-note test.
no curriculum
Impossible demands placed on teachers and staff to implement something which they have simply been given tweets and links to somehow develop an education plan
Paid App Approval Process
4-6 weeks to approve an app to be used in the classroom, which means that if a teach finds an app they need to have things sorted out at least one quarter ahead of time in order to ensure delivery to their students.
The problem is not your digital citizens acting “uncitizen-like” or teachers not fulfilling mandates, the problem is poor leadership and poor planning on the part of this school corporation.  The problem is the school corporation came into the project unprepared both on the technology and education fronts, with a mandate that fails the basic points of education, network security, and “what to expect from a group of teenagers”.
You are not going to fix this by simply adding bandwidth and trying to reason with your students.  You either now have to take the steps of either becoming a cybercop on every user in your network (of which you do not have the time or funds to support) or you have to start unplugging things.  

We are now three weeks into iPad deployment into the #HCCSC2012 school year and now the big question is…well, what about all that stuff I said could happen with my 64 Days post.  

Thankfully, the worst case scenario has not happened.  The network has thankfully held up and so far (well, from my extremely limited vantage point) the network has not been hacked into oblivion.  However, that’s not too much of a surprise either since https is still unblocked and if you are into some pretty awful can download it at 500Mbit/s speeds on the 10G network they run between schools (yes, 10G ring…don’t ask).

So my thoughts on this so far?  I still think this is an abject failure.  Why?  

The kids are using iPads either as glorified notebooks or digital cameras and constantly uploading to Facebook.  I’m guessing that a significant majority of traffic on the network is probably social media related….which is actually fine in my book.  It’s how that it’s being used is the problem.

But what does this mean for the schools?  Well, we still have ~$2million in iPads that have to be used over the next four years.  We still don’t have lesson plans other than “take notes on them” and I’m guessing the most abused access point in the entire network is the one in the commons area…and not in the classrooms.

See, there’s lots of postings in the #HCCSC2012 hashtag which mostly revolve around buzzwords.  In almost everything inside of the hashtag, you see someone posting about great ideas which involve ways create dialogue to synthesize interest in the paradigm of learning in the digital classroom.  Or in other words…a bunch of clever words covering up a bunch of BS.

We have this in the business world…they are called buzz words and if you get enough of your friends to play along, you can play buzz word bingo.  Every time your teacher facilitator demonstrates a way paradigm shifting method to teach enhance the educational experience….yeah, you have been there.  And yes, there is an app for that….

Now I have been pretty snarky about this process…and I think I have been pretty right on about the use of this (I still get questions on “how do I use this”?) so I am willing to make this offer.  I am willing to take time away over the next few weeks and help any teacher in the corporation to put together some ideas on how to really introduce the iPad into their classroom.  Beyond posting on a random blog or updating your Facebook status.  I’m not planning on making a buck on this or wanting to prove a point.  But I see the resources out there and I am also seeing teachers struggle in trying to incorporate this new mandate from above while trying to teach classes…and it appears to be quite a big hurdle.