Visit the FNO Press Online Store at

Just in Time Technology:
Doing Better with Fewer

The Introduction

We may not need a laptop sitting on every student’s desktop poised for that moment when a computer just might be the right tool for the job.

This book was designed for teachers, students, parents and principals in schools where sharing, planning and restraint are still cherished social values - where resources are limited and thrift is yet considered a virtue.

This book is dedicated to the notion that thoughtful planning can lead to important cost savings along with optimal use of new tools - thereby freeing funds for other goals, activities and technologies.

Emerging from a decade of exuberance, foolishness, greed, exaggerated vendor claims, fraudulent accounting and a frenzied overemphasis upon digital tools and lifestyles, schools are learning to be discerning consumers, approaching new tools and gadgets with reasoned skepticism and judicious thinking.

Most of us reject the notion that this is a digital world - preferring, instead, a much richer mix of inputs and resources. We know the joys of going unplugged, walking along a beach and curling up with a musty old book like Treasure Island - a family heirloom passed down through several generations complete with original illustrations by Norman C. Wyeth.

Just in Time suggests ways to move equipment around to optimize results and maximize a school’s return on investments.

The whole notion of “any time, any where” deployment now seems outmoded, wasteful and thoughtless. It is a marketing slogan of a bubble gum economy that surged on speculation but burst on bottom lines. We now see the wisdom of putting profligate ways behind us.

A French king promised a chicken in every pot. Today’s politicians suggested a laptop for every child. Not to mention cell phones and personal handheld digital assistants.

The road to perdition is paved with the skeletons of busted technologies.

We cannot afford to invest in companies without business plans or technologies without credible learning plans and prospects. Schools are under considerable pressure to create waves of thinking, problem-solving students capable of mastering the demanding skills expected by provincial and state governments across North American, Australia and elsewhere.

The essential learnings are not the spreadsheeting, powerpointing and mouse movements of a technology driven program or culture. They are, instead, the communication, problem-solving, decision-making and teaming that good schools have stressed for half a century or more. This is no brave new world, corporate agenda. These are classical goals - to raise young ones capable of thinking independently and working productively as part of a caring community with whatever tools make sense for the jobs at hand.

Bamboozlement is not new in this century, but recent corporate failures, excesses, bankruptcies and frauds have raised our awareness of deception to a very high level.

Demagogues employed bamboozlement in the previous century, offering simple solutions to complex issues. Snake oil sales folk have been around for a long time. But the addition of accounting firms to the list of suspects is a sad development as we have long counted on these companies to vouchsafe the integrity of corporate and government financial reports.

Schools must view the technology planning process within this broader context of economic boom, bust and speculation, recognizing that the rush to network classrooms was based on little data and much hope and dazzle.

The best uses of new technologies often entail a thoughtful blending of those tools with more classical tools. We must view the exaggerated claims and promises of vendors and entrepreneurs with informed skepticism and discernment. The creation of program should be driven by learning goals shaped by the sagacity and experience of educators who maintain proximity to classrooms and children.

This is a time to slow down, take plenty of time and tend our gardens - a time for pruning, weeding, cultivating, fertilizing and propagating.

Back to Summer Cover

Credits: The photographs were shot by Jamie McKenzie.
Copyright Policy: Materials published in From Now On may be duplicated in hard copy format if unchanged in format and content for educational, nonprofit school district and university use only and may also be sent from person to person by e-mail. This copyright statement must be included. All other uses, transmissions and duplications are prohibited unless permission is granted expressly. Showing these pages remotely through frames is not permitted.
FNO is applying for formal copyright registration for articles. Unauthorized abridgements are illegal.

From Now On Index Page