No New Tech in Our School!

What? Wait? What did you say?

"No New Tech in Our School!"?

I thought this blog was about technology (among other things)?

It is.

And it isn't.

Let me explain in my usual roundabout way.

By some standards, I could be considered a musician - meaning that I regularly get out my guitar and play with other musicians.  I have even been paid to play at weddings, which would almost make me a professional... but I'm starting to really stretch it a bit here.

Suffice it to say, that I enjoy playing and own several guitars.

If you have read some of my older posts you know we moved within the last year (Google+: Should you consider a move?) as well as our dog Isabel's reaction to the move (A (not so) subtle message).

One of the big advantages for me, is that there is now room to strategically place my guitars around the house on stands so that they are available to play whenever the opportunity arises.  I no longer have to pull the instruments out of their case and get set up.

I'm thoroughly enjoying time on instruments I haven't played in a long time. Simply because they are now accessible and available.  Not hidden in a closet.

Which gets me to the point of my post.

In a recent team meeting, I announced that the plan for the next two years was no new technology.

By that I meant that we had just come through a two year cycle of literally eviscerating our infrastructure - rebuilding it from the ground up, as well as brought all our underlying systems (Exchange, SharePoint, SQL Server, etc.) up to current version. It was a wild ride given that we had to keep the school operational while we did that.  It was really equivalent to the EDS advertisement about building the airplane in flight (below).

I have a great team, and they pulled it off.  Not only did they do all this work, they added significant capacity and capabilities in the form of a collaborative work environment (MS Lync) green screen studio with high end cameras for media development, a post production media studio, video conferencing and streaming capabilities and much more.

But now it's time for the hard part.

We have to integrate all this wonderful capacity and capabilities into the day to day stream of teaching and learning - which is the real reason our organization exists.

But  having the best technology is meaningless if it is sitting unused.

Let me be blunt. If you build it, and nobody uses it, you have failed.

We are focusing on helping our users be successful at what they do. Which means we are putting an emphasis on the UX, or User eXperience.  I wrote previously about this in a recent post (The Missing Link in Educational Technology)

The emphasis is on understanding the work done by the people we support. It's about finding innovative ways to make it easy for our users to adopt and integrate these tools into their teaching and learning.

It's about getting the utilization rate of our technology to the point where we are using 80% of the functionality we currently possess.

It's about doing IT in a new way.

We have enough technology right now.

Stick with me as we work through this.

How about you?  Are you fully utilizing the capabilities of your technology?  If not, what are you doing about it?


For the other musicians out there... my main instruments are:

  • A Rainsong WS-2000 bought in 2000. (www.rainsong.com) This instrument is entirely composed of graphite and is my main working guitar.  Beautiful tones both acoustically and through a board. 
  • A 1975 Martin D-28 bought in 1980 (www.martinguitar.com) This guitar has a lot of miles, and weddings, and hours of playing on it. It's worn, and has cracks from all its use, but this is part of its personality and tone.
  • A 2010 Ignition Inferno ( www.ignitionguitars.com )  I was at a silent auction, and this instrument was whispering my name as I walked by. "Kevin.... Kevin.... Psst... Take me home..."  Really.  If you are a musician this may have happened to you.  This is a custom built instrument that was originally a piece of mahogany furniture. Now it is a beautiful instrument that plays very well. A rich, smooth tone and the slightly wider, longer neck (more higher frets) makes it a very playable guitar.
  • A 1964 Goya classical.  This is my "plunker" guitar. I bought it off a colleague who bought it in Chicago in 1964, played it twice and put it under the bed for years.  It still had the original strings on it.
  • Plus a few (4 or 5) others in my son's room and other corners of the house.


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