Due to the incredible fiscal work of my principal, we now have about $20,000 to spend on tech this year for my elementary school. She asked me to prepare a list of ideas on how this money could be spent so that she could take it to the tech committee for review.
So I began by taking out a blank sheet of paper and I started to right down all the ways we could spend this money. Netbooks, iPads, Smartboards, Cameras, etc. the list went on and on and when I was done the rough total was $110,000. Ooops!
So I crumpled up that paper and started a new one. At the top I wrote, "What will our school look like in 3 years?"
Now I started to write down ideas like BYOD (students bringing their own devices like iPads and Netbooks). I wrote down Kindles for books and other ideas like it. A portable video conferencing cart (Skype) so that it could be taken from classroom to classroom. I also wrote down a few tech subscriptions (like Atomic Learning) to help get us the training the teachers will need. After a few minutes I had a list of concepts and ideas and not products.
The next thing I did was to start a list of things we might need to allow for these ideas to happen. Let's take the idea of BYOD. Some of the things I wrote down were wireless infrastructure (I put a check mark next to this one because we now have it throughout our building), charging stations in classrooms, different furniture for our media center, training for teachers, etc.
I started to feel better about how we were going to spend this money. Rather than having the "tail wag the dog" with tech telling us what we should buy. I turned it around and starting to think what does my school need from tech.
Do we really need to buy each of our students a netbook, if they already have one at home? And that goes the same for most tech devices.
Purchasing tech for your school shouldn't center on keeping up with the other schools in your district, rather it should focus on where you want your school to go technologically and then putting the right equipment and training in place to get there.
- Brad Flickinger, Tech Teacher, Bethke Elementary