First things first?

[Yes, this is an actual conversation, not an April Fool’s Day joke]

Superintendent: We’re not looking to buy laptops for our students anytime in the near future. We’re concerned that our teachers won’t use them well. We don’t want to spend a lot of money to go 1:1 and then have the initiative be a failure.

Me: But how will your teachers and students learn to use computers well if they don’t have them?


11 Responses to “First things first?”

  1. I think that the interesting piece of the picture is tied up in the word “well.” The fact is that students don’t need us to learn how to use computers. They can easily catch up on the skill side of things. The problem has to do with the second-level digital-divide. The lack of appropriate use leads to a changed relationship with technology and information. The 2009 article by Laura Robinson titled “A Taste for the Necessary” has a nice discussion of this (

  2. You must learn to make omelets before we can provide you with eggs. Otherwise you might make omelets wrong.

  3. Scott,

    I’m with you in principle, but the devil is in the details of the timing. There is no question that you can’t wait for *every* teacher to be ready, but if too few are in a position to begin embracing the accompanying changes, or if the idea itself is only the superintendent’s (or board of ed’s), then I think your fictional superintendent’s concern is valid. Unfortunate, but valid.

    • Hi Tom,

      1. Sadly, the superintendent’s not fictional.

      2. I’m going to disagree with you. The concern is valid but the solution isn’t because under his rationale there’s no path to success. They’ll simply continue doing what they’ve always done, which is little to nothing. Are there other possible solutions to the superintendent’s concerns? Of course there are…

  4. We’ve been in a similar position until this year, when we were told “we’re looking at devices, but we want teachers to be trained on them before putting them in the hands of students”. YES! It’s sad that the type of Superintendent above still exists in this day and age.

  5. I have asked if we might all still be using slates had not enough teachers used paper correctly . . . and if it is acceptable for a fourth grade teacher not to teach fractions if she knows some of her students won’t get it.

  6. Great management that illustrates the “planning for failure” mental model. “Planning for success” is obviously out of the question.

  7. Sadly sounds very similar to a conversation I recently had with our superintendent :/

  8. Here’s the same conversation from another angle:

    Teacher/Tech Integrator: We need you to spend about $100,000 on iPads or laptops.

    Superintendent: How do you plan on using them?

    Teacher/Tech Integrator/EdTech Consultant: We don’t have a plan, but we really need them.

    Superintendent: How will you measure it’s success?

    T/TI/EDC: We won’t. And if it doesn’t go well we will put them in a closet with the other toys we’ve bought and blame you for not providing enough PD.

    • Garou ~

      If the Teacher/Tech Integrator/EdTech Consultant is replying with those answers, they aren’t doing their job the right way. Quality tech integration is not technology for technology’s sake.

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