The author says the rush to upgrade computer systems and networks is starting to reveal some casualties: unrealized promises, unused equipment, and wasted funds. Here are the reasons he says many K-12 school districts simply aren’t ready yet to use the power of sophisticated broadband networks:

• Administrators and teachers don’t know enough about how to use computers;

• Computers are still being widely used as substitute lecturers (rather than facilitating new ways of educating and communicating), making the network just a faster way of receiving information in the old format;

• Network administrators are not up to the task of maintaining the networks; and

• Students’ access to the networks is severely limited, thanks to concerns that range from pornography to hacking to network overload.

The author suggests a few solutions to these dilemmas:

• First, you can outsource network development and maintenance to companies that are truly experts, instead of relying upon undertrained members of your IT staff.

• Second, you can accept a certain degree of openness in the use of computers and the accessibility of data on your network.

• Third, don’t replicate the internet or software experiences that students can enjoy at home or through other venues. Instead, use computers for nontrivial, truly educational activities.

• Finally, consider all other routes for providing students with access to the web or print-based information before blindly diving into the latest technology upgrade.

abstracted from “Cut the Cord: How Networks Are Making Schools Stupid

District Administration, December 2001
http://www.districtadministration.com/Features/story.asp?txtFilename=stager.html&txtTitle=Speaking%20Out