While I talk frequently about the need to forge ahead with ideas that are cutting edge, I think it is good to acknowledge the fact that without people to put the brakes on from time to time, we’d be collecting an awful lot of junky obsolete technology. For instance:
- District-wide 1:1 PDAs and pagers
- StarBoards in every classroom
- iPod Shuffles for students
- Digital overhead projectors (not document readers)
- Staff Friendster accounts
- Baskets of spell-check devices
I’m sure there are more, but the point I’m trying to make is that some trends are the Alpha. If schools hitched their technology innovation to every trend without strict evaluation, the investments would add up to a lot of waste. I remember when our school tossed about the idea of buying every kid an iPod shuffle so they could have audio books. In retrospect that seems like a mentally inept concept, but at the time it got some support. Someone said (and it wasn’t me), “hey, let’s research what else is in the works before we do this, I bet there will be video and/or wifi ability soon.” Well, two years later we bought three iPod carts each holding 30 iPod touches. THey have been wonderful to work with. Had that first idea not been shot down, I doubt anyone would have supported the next idea. Sure, technology is always obsoleting itself, but it should not do so in less than the life cycle of a new product. If a MacBook runs its lifespan and is upgraded to an iPad, or something similar, that isn’t really the same thing. If schools invest wisely, they can leverage technology without chasing fads.