Times are changing in our district. We have a new assistant superintendent, and the chain of command has been altered so the director of technology reports to the assistant superintendent (in previous administrations, the director of technology reported to the superintendent). This makes sense, because the new assistant superintendent is a former superintendent who was previously a director of technology. In other words, he knows technology. But he’s an “Apple Guy.”
That’s quite a stretch in our district, as we’ve been all-PC since 1996. That’s fifteen years of Microsoft-only dominance. We did have one Mac server for Community Education (registration, etc.). We also bought a couple of Macs for our television production studio. But in general, no Apple products were in our district.
A few iPods and iPod Touches have filtered into the system here and there, but they did not represent a threat to the PC-dominance, and those devices also interact through Windows.
This fall, with a new assistant superintendent, things began to change. iPads were put in the hands of all administrators. It’s probably a good time to mention that the act of putting the newest technology in the hands of administrators first doesn’t necessarily lead to instructional change in the classroom. But we’ve also seen that putting technology into the hands of teachers and not the students doesn’t lead to much instruction change, either.
So we now have over 200 iPads in the district (I don’t count the five iPads I know of at our school, as each was purchased by the teacher individually). This summer our school is hosting a seminary by Apple on digital resources, and they plan for over 700 attendees (meanwhile, there are barely any Apple products in our school–there are only two Macs in the school, and five administrator iPads ).
I ended up getting into a debate with our building tech (someone I don’t know well, and who doesn’t know me) about iPads. He spouted the classic “Android” support statements (look at how many Android devices there are, there were no apps, but now they are catching up with Apple, and the devices are “open”). I stand by Fraser Speirs’ thoughts that if Android is better in five years, we should move to it–but nothing else compares to the iPad right now. Then the tech said the most interesting thing:
“Administrations change, bringing technology with them. This iPad wave will go with this administration.”
In other words, some of the techs in our district are just waiting out this administration, dragging their feet, and planning on returning to things as usual. These folks might be right–but then again, they might be missing out on change in computing, resulting in putting our school and our technology more than a decade behind the ball.
We’ve also joined the Educational Volume Licensing Program, and it will be interesting to see where the district goes. Our district leadership has been to Apple (Cupertino) this year, has been in discussion with Apple, and has participated in visits to GFW High School (the all-iPad school).
The sad part is that our school opened in the Fall of 2009, with mostly adequate technology that included a SMART Board in each room. The iPad was released less than a year later, and had that device existed at the time, I’m sure we would not have placed the same technology in our school. And because the technology at our other high schools is still behind our technology, we will have to wait until those other schools surpass us in technology (leaving us behind) before we can change technological directions ourselves. At the moment, I’m not sure that we even have replacement bulbs for when all of our LCD projectors go out at the same general time in a year or so. I think the future will feature on touch-based 96-inch widescreen LCD screens for “interactive white board” use, and then students will have tablets of some kind on their desks.