Challenging Beliefs About How to Bring Technology to Schools

abstracted from “Integrating Technology into Education” by Jim Surratt and Eliot Levinson

Converge Magazine online edition, January 2000

http://www.convergemag.com/Publications/CN VGJan00/ TechFromTheTop/TechTop.shtm

The authors challenge two common beliefs about how technology can be successfully integrated into the K-12 environment.

The first belief they cite is, “Integration of technology should be done on a school-by-school basis because site-based management is a necessary condition for school-based change.” They suggest that thinking about technology in this type of a site-based manner may not be efficient if technology is better suited for the district level. For example, district-wide curriculum matters should not be addressed on the school level, and neither should network infrastructure.

The authors suggest two approaches, which they label “best-teacher” and “early-adopter,” as alternatives. Asking the “best” teachers to create a district-wide curriculum that will work for reaching students of a particular subject will often work better than have an individual teacher or school create the curriculum. The “early-adopter” approach encourages teachers to take the training to become proficient technology users and educators. This method reaches the most motivated teachers and turns them into leaders, rather that forcing material on teachers who are not prepared or motivated to learn.

The second common belief that the authors challenge is “The principal is the key to technology integration in a school.” The problem with relying on the principal as the technology leader is that if he/she is not interested in or capable of being that leader, then programs will flounder. School districts must ensure that technology support comes from headquarters, and that it is offered both to schools as a whole and also to individual teachers, if they want to see its successful integration.

School System Improves Efficiency of Network with Cache Technology

abstracted from “CacheFlow Internet Caching Appliances Help San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools Office Control WAN Costs and Improve Internet Response Time”

CacheFlow Inc. web site, February 2000

http://www.cacheflow.com

The San Bernardino County (Calif.) School District says that “caching” technology installed on its wide area network (WAN) computer system has substantially improved the speed of both its internal communications and connections to the internet, by helping the district more efficiently use the bandwidth of its network.

The WAN is used for administering both payroll and finances for K-12 schools and five community college districts in San Bernardino County and also serves as the hub for the county’s schools to access the internet. Requests for internet content from every school funnel into the network. Before the new technology was installed, about 95 percent of the WAN link was occupied with internet requests, often delaying the downloading of educational web content for students and teachers.

CacheFlow Inc., a provider of network efficiency solutions, created a caching system that stores within the WAN the internet content most often requested by the network’s 20,000 users, and it monitors the source of those pages for content changes. This uses the existing bandwidth more efficiently because most of the requests for content never leave the county’s network.

“The CacheFlow appliances are satisfying almost 60 percent of our requests for internet content. As a result, web traffic now accounts for only about half of our total WAN bandwidth,” said Jeremy Powell, telecommunications infrastructure specialist for the school system. “The CacheFlow solution has enabled us to accomplish our immediate goals—flattening the peaks in WAN costs and improving performance for students and faculty.” Sagebrush Corp. and Winnebago Software Co. merged on Jan. 14 to become what the companies call the largest firm dedicated to the market for K-12 information solutions—a category that includes library automation systems, quality-bound books, cataloging services, internet solutions, and other educational resources.

“By pooling Sagebrush and Winnebago talent, we will accelerate the pace of innovation in our industry, including new ideas for exploiting the internet,” promised Jay Stead, president and CEO of the combined firm. “Stepped-up innovation will allow our customers to deliver educational services more broadly, effectively, and conveniently than ever before.