“IT leadership is no longer hiding in the wiring closet”

Sometimes it takes a crisis to bring about change, but if people are smart, they learn from OTHER people’s trials-by-fire and do something about it before it happens to them.

Remember Lower Merion School District and their laptop spying case? Laptop cameras were activated and photos taken (over 50,000 it turns out!) of students without permission, compromising privacy, and probably illegal. National headlines for the district to deal with, investigations, lawsuits and more. What was meant to be a way to track stolen laptops turned into a legal and PR nightmare for the community.

That was February 2010. What’s happened since?

Tech & Learning magazine thinks there is a silver lining to all this — and they may just be right. Especially if others learn the lesson. (by Andrew Page – Watch It!)

If there is a silver lining for this school district, which has incurred more than a million dollars in legal fees and countless hours of extra work, it may be that just as the advanced use of technology put it on the front lines of privacy issues, the same technology has proved itself a remarkable ally in connecting the district with its parents and students, who rallied around the shared mission to provide the most up to-date learning tools and environment. Whether it was Facebook groups or electronic petitions, Web sites or video broadcasts of public meetings, the solutions to the many challenges to the district’s use of technology came, in part, through technology itself.

In May, the same school at which the laptop-spying scandal broke, Harriton High, was the setting for the first meeting of a brand-new technology advisory council, a group of parents, students, and administrators who have volunteered to meet and discuss subjects raised by the district’s progressive embrace of technology for learning. Sixty volunteers attended the first meeting, which ran for three hours, and discussed everything from policy development to the overall strategy of using technology in the classroom. A special subcommittee on privacy and security was formed and had its first meeting in July.

IS director Frazier was there.

“One thing that has emerged from all this is that IT leadership is no longer hiding in the wiring closet,” he says. “IT leadership has to also think about it in terms of communicating with the students and parents, and how you can add value and decision making.”

from Watch It! Lessons learned from Lower Merion’s “Webcamgate”

So – what about YOU? What will it take to get IT out of the wiring closet and start building community consensus with parents, teachers, administrators and STUDENTS!

This article continues with links to new policies, roles, resources, and new plans for keeping the technology vision moving forward at Lower Merion. Why not take advantage of their hard-won (and expensive) knowledge!


A new blog in town – 1:1 Schools

There’s a new blog in town about 1:1 schools, aptly named the 1:1 Schools blog. Scott McLeod of Iowa State University is the organizer of a group of authors who blog about issues, resources, and the special needs of 1:1 schools. I’m happy to be on the team!

Many of our GenYES and TechYES schools are laptop schools. The philosophy of putting the power into student hands with a laptop fits nicely with empowering students to improve education school-wide!

So naturally, my first post for the 1:1 Schools Blog is about student support of laptop programs. Not just tech support, but support for planning, implementation, and teachers. How can students do this? Do students do this? Yes they can and do in schools around the world!

In most schools, students are over 92% of the people in the system, and they are certainly the ones most affected by any change. Yet we often overlook them when we plan and implement visionary efforts like going 1:1. This does not have to be – students, if allowed to participate, can be powerful allies and evangelists for your laptop revolution.

Read the rest of Students – your best allies and evangelists for your 1:1 program at the 1:1 Schools Blog.


Students as Agents of Change

AALF Articles – Students as Agents of Change.

The Anywhere Anytime Learning Foundation (AALF) is a great resource for articles, research and resources about schools going 1:1. This month’s newsletter featured a short article by me about students as agents of change in laptop programs.

Most laptop programs start with a philosophy of putting power into student hands – but amid all the excitement of selecting hardware and planning the logistics, this can get lost.

Keep student empowerment front and center by focusing on Students as Agents of Change.


Free Back to School Resource for Laptop Schools

It’s back to school time again in the US! Time for fresh new school supplies, backpacks, or maybe some new laptops?


Student Support of Laptop Programs – new laptops? old laptops? Are you getting the benefit of making students allies in your laptop initiative? Peer mentoring, student-led training on new hardware and software, student tech support and other ideas can be time saving, cost effective, and best of all, good for students and the whole learning community.

This whitepaper contains research, case studies, practical information that you can use right now, whether you have one cart or are a 1:1 laptop school.

Student Support of Laptop Programs (PDF)


Student Support of Laptop Programs


I’m happy to announce a new resource for laptop schools – or schools planning a laptop implementation. Student Support of Laptop Programs (PDF) covers all aspects of creating a highly effective student support team for your laptop program. Research, planning tips, case studies, and practical suggestions are packed into 16 pages.

  • Student tech support teams in a laptop school
  • Student support for teachers and students using laptops in classrooms
  • How (and why) to include students on planning committees
  • Students as trainers and mentors for new users
  • How students can make a laptop rollout go smoother
  • How to train and sustain a student technology team in support of laptops

This is a great resource to share with your laptop implementation team. I hope you enjoy it and share it widely!

A special thank you to the fabulous teachers who shared stories about their wonderful students:

  • Ann Powers at Tongue River Middle School – Ranchester, WY
  • Debbie Kosvedy at Shadow Mountain HS – Paradise Valley, AZ
  • Steve Spaeth at Mt. Ararat Middle School – Topsham, ME
  • Don Kinslow at Parkview Elementary – Chico, CA
  • Cherilyn Ziemer at Northland Christian School – Houston, TX