Opportunities in Hard Times

The US economy is tanking (surely you’ve noticed! :-).

And, based on the regular messages from the superintendent and a variety of rumors, it’s pretty clear next year’s budget here in the overly-large school district is heading down the same crapper.

Ok, so no one’s getting a raise, class sizes will be increased, an assortment of programs will be scaled back or cut, and we’re certainly not going to be buying new technology.

However, I’m wondering if that last part might not be an opportunity.

During this relatively flush decade, we’ve bought a lot of computers, networks, and assorted other electronic tools.

So these not-so-flush times are an excellent time to take a break, reflect and take a good, hard look at how all that stuff is being used.

Are those interactive whiteboards really effective teaching tools or just a highly motivational way to do the same old things?

When things get better should we buy more “clicker” (student response) systems or are they just an expensive gimmick?

Could there be better ways to use all the computers and other equipment we already have other than creating bad PowerPoint slide shows and drilling for standardized tests?

But beyond the process of assessing where we are, there are also ways to move forward even without money.

All of our schools will still have excellent access to the web and plenty of devices to make the connection.

The anarchist in me wonders if this wouldn’t be a great time to try something different, to seriously experiment with using some of those open source and web 2.0 tools that we keep talking about but never seem to do anything with.

Our administrators really don’t like all that stuff since it doesn’t allow them to have total control.

But total control usually requires money and, when that’s in short supply, it opens the opportunity for imagination and a willingness to try some things that are outside the comfort zone.

Actually, it would be nice if this crisis could motivate a complete rethinking of this whole process we call “school”.

However, that’s not likely to happen without a much bigger upheaval, beyond a simple financial meltdown.

3 thoughts on “Opportunities in Hard Times

  • November 24, 2008 at 5:39 am
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    I agree. My district is already a depressed area before the crisis. What will it take for a complete change? Many say that is not going to happen. I ask why can’t it?

  • November 24, 2008 at 10:32 am
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    Great ideas. I’ll definitely look into some of those things at my school. I’ve already heard about a district in my state going to an all open-sourced equivalent of Works.

  • November 25, 2008 at 10:45 am
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    I think you are right about going the way of Web 2.0 tools. There is so much for you to explore. It makes sense because with this recession students/parents will have less money to purchase the software tools that they will need.

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