Planning Good Change - Page 28 - Next Page

First Things First

Even though it seems apparent that networks should serve teachers, students and learning, in many cases networks become self serving in the sense that their health and functioning becomes a goal separate and above the whole issue of student learning and curriculum.

Does the network hum? does it scream?

6. Provide extended funding, technical support and commitment

Because few districts understand the full cost of owning and operating a robust network, there is a tendency to provide insufficient technical support staff and insufficient funding for network development over time. While the computer vendors and network software companies have excelled at the art of promoting rapid obsolescence under the guise of "enhancement" and "upgrades," districts rarely develop an equipment replacement schedule that accurately reflects the reality of keeping up with those enhancements.

Without a comprehensive and all inclusive, long term budget to keep them vibrant, networks have a tendency to "rust." This means rather simply that performance can suffer as new software will start to drag down the speed and response of desktop units bought for an earlier stage of development.

Without appropriate levels of technical support, a district is likely to suffer from what I have called "network starvation" (Chapter Nine). In addition to diminished network reliability and efficiency, such districts also tend to experience a lack of network resource development to support curriculum goals because there are too few technicians to install and maintain the information products required for a robust experience. Even worse, the lack of technical staff can foster a climate of tight control over network resources that may block teachers and librarians from shaping the network experience at a building level. In many districts, educators are not allowed access to file servers and web sites, so they are unable to influence the design of resources in a learner friendly manner.

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Credits: The photographs were shot by Jamie McKenzie.
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