We are a private K-12 school. As such we have to compete with the free public schools for students. Academically we are more than competitive. If you graduate from here, and did not goof off too much, you will have the academic background to attend any university of your choice. For many parents and kids this is a pretty big attractor to attend here. But given the present state of the economy we need to have something that will get parents lined up at the door trying to give us the $8000 per kid tuition.
Wishing to increase our attractiveness, one of the administrators has decided we need to be known as the “technology school” to increase enrolment. Personally, I think it is a great idea. After all, I am the school tech dude and I love tech stuff so of course I am going to love the idea. My only question is; what is a “technology school”? Does this mean a 1-to-1 laptop ratio, or four years of computer science is offered in the high school, or every classroom has a Smartboard and a teacher that knows how to use it? Or is there some other property that makes a “technology school”?
I am not quite sure the administrator realizes what would be required to implement any of just those three in money or labor. School technology is not plug-and-play. We have a teacher that uses a Smartboard regularly. He figures it took him about three years to get his curriculum rewritten so its use is justified and it is not just a big expensive mouse. We have kids who bring laptops into the school. We have teacher comments ranging from “terrific, I wish they all had them” to “we cannot have that”. I figure a curriculum re-write to take advantage of a 1-to-1 laptop ratio would require lots of staff time ($$), lots of staff commitment and re-education, and some major infrastructure upgrades ($$). The Microsoft sponsored School of the Future in Philadelphia had some major teething issues and that was with some major money and some major tech support.
So many school technology spending projects are so poorly thought out or implemented that the end result is only money wasted. Hanging a Smartboard on the wall and telling the teacher “here it is” is fiscally irresponsible. With our budget, fiscal irresponsibility is simply not something we can tolerate. So figuring out what a “technology school” is and how much it would cost to be one is not trivial.