History of Educational Technology

Educational TechnologyThere is no written evidence which can tell us exactly who has coined the phrase educational technology. Different educationists, scientists and philosophers at different time intervals have put forwarded different definitions of Educational Technology. Educational technology is a multifaceted and integrated process involving people, procedure, ideas, devices, and organization, where technology from different fields of science is borrowed as per the need and requirement of education for implementing, evaluating, and managing solutions to those problems involved in all aspects of human learning.

Educational technology, broadly speaking, has passed through five stages.

The first stage of educational technology is coupled with the use of aids like charts, maps, symbols, models, specimens and concrete materials. The term educational technology was used as synonyms to audio-visual aids.

The second stage of educational technology is associated with the ‘electronic revolution’ with the introduction and establishment of sophisticated hardware and software. Use of various audio-visual aids like projector, magic lanterns, tape-recorder, radio and television brought a revolutionary change in the educational scenario. Accordingly, educational technology concept was taken in terms of these sophisticated instruments and equipments for effective presentation of instructional materials.

The third stage of educational technology is linked with the development of mass media which in turn led to ‘communication revolution’ for instructional purposes. Computer-assisted Instruction (CAI) used for education since 1950s also became popular during this era.

The fourth stage of educational technology is discernible by the individualized process of instruction. The invention of programmed learning and programmed instruction provided a new dimension to educational technology. A system of self-learning based on self-instructional materials and teaching machines emerged.

The latest concept of educational technology is influenced by the concept of system engineering or system approach which focuses on language laboratories, teaching machines, programmed instruction, multimedia technologies and the use of the computer in instruction. According to it, educational technology is a systematic way of designing, carrying out and evaluating the total process of teaching and learning in terms of specific objectives based on research.

Educational technology during the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, and the Iron Age
Educational technology, despite the uncertainty of the origin of the term, can be traced back to the time of the three-age system periodization of human prehistory; namely the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, and the Iron Age.

Duringthe Stone Age, ignition of fire by rubbing stones, manufacture of various handmade weapon and utensils from stones and clothing practice were some of the simple technological developments of utmost importance. A fraction of Stone Age people developed ocean-worthy outrigger canoe ship technology to migrate from one place to another across the Ocean, by which they developed their first informal education of knowledge of the ocean currents, weather conditions, sailing practice, astronavigation, and star maps. During the later Stone Age period (Neolithic period),for agricultural practice, polished stone tools were made from a variety of hard rocks largely by digging underground tunnels, which can be considered as the first steps in mining technology. The polished axes were so effective that even after appearance of bronze and iron; people used it for clearing forest and the establishment of crop farming.

Although Stone Age cultures left no written records, but archaeological evidences proved their shift from nomadic life to agricultural settlement. Ancient tools conserved in different museums, cave paintings like Altamira Cave in Spain, and other prehistoric art, such as the Venus of Willendorf, Mother Goddess from Laussel, France etc. are some of the evidences in favour of their cultures.

Neolithic Revolution of Stone Age resulted into the appearance of Bronze Age with development of agriculture, animal domestication, and the adoption of permanent settlements. For these practices Bronze Age people further developed metal smelting, with copper and later bronze, an alloy of tin and copper, being the materials of their choice.

The Iron Age people replaced bronze and developed the knowledge of iron smelting technology to lower the cost of living since iron utensils were stronger and cheaper than bronze equivalents. In many Eurasian cultures, the Iron Age was the last period before the development of written scripts.

Educational technology during the period of Ancient civilizations
According to Paul Saettler, 2004, Educational technology can be traced back to the time when tribal priests systematized bodies of knowledge and ancient cultures invented pictographs or sign writing to record and transmit information. In every stage of human civilization, one can find an instructional technique or set of procedures intended to implement a particular culture which were also supported by number of investigations and evidences. The more advanced the culture, the more complex became the technology of instruction designed to reflect particular ways of individual and social behaviour intended to run an educated society. Over centuries, each significant shift in educational values, goals or objectives led to diverse technologies of instruction.

The greatest advances in technology and engineering came with the rise of the ancient civilizations. These advances stimulated and educated other societies in the world to adopt new ways of living and governance.

The Indus Valley Civilization was an early Bronze Age civilization which was located in the northwestern region of the Indian Subcontinent. The civilization was primarily flourished around the Indus River basin of the Indus and the Punjab region, extending upto the Ghaggar-Hakra River valley and the Ganges-Yamuna Doab, (most of the part is under today’s Pakistan and the western states of modern-day India as well as some part of the civilization extending upto southeastern Afghanistan, and the easternmost part of Balochistan, Iran).

There is a long term controversy to be sure about the language that the Harappan people spoke. It is assumed that their writing was at least seems to be or a pictographic script. The script appears to have had about 400 basic signs, with lots of variations. People write their script with the direction generally from right to left. Most of the writing was found on seals and sealings which were probably used in trade and official & administrative work.

Harappan people had the knowledge of the measuring tools of length, mass, and time. They were the first in the world to develop a system of uniform weights and measures.

In a study carried out by P. N. Rao et al. in 2009, published in Science, computer scientists found that the Indus script’s pattern is closer to that of spoken words, which supported the proposed hypothesis that it codes for an as-yet-unknown language.

According to the Chinese Civilization, some of the major techno-offerings from China include paper, early seismological detectors, toilet paper, matches, iron plough, the multi-tube seed drill, the suspension bridge, the wheelbarrow, the parachute, natural gas as fuel, the magnetic compass, the raised-relief map, the blast furnace, the propeller, the crossbow, the South Pointing Chariot, and gun powder. With the invent of paper they have given their first step towards developments of educational technology by further culturing different handmade products of paper as means of visual aids.

Ancient Egyptian language was at one point one of the longest surviving and used languages in the world. Their script was made up of pictures of the real things like birds, animals, different tools, etc. These pictures are popularly called hieroglyph. Their language was made up of above 500 hieroglyphs which are known as hieroglyphics. On the stone monuments or tombs which were discovered and rescued latter on provides the evidence of existence of many forms of artistic hieroglyphics in ancient Egypt.

Educational technology during Medieval and Modern Period
Paper and the pulp papermaking process which was developed in China during the early 2nd century AD, was carried to the Middle East and was spread to Mediterranean by the Muslim conquests. Evidences support that a paper mill was also established in Sicily in the 12th century. The discovery of spinning wheel increased the productivity of thread making process to a great extent and when Lynn White added the spinning wheel with increasing supply of rags, this led to the production of cheap paper, which was a prime factor in the development of printing technology.

The invention of the printing press was taken place in approximately 1450 AD, by Johannes Gutenburg, a German inventor. The invention of printing press was a prime developmental factor in the history of educational technology to convey the instruction as per the need of the complex and advanced-technology cultured society.

In the pre-industrial phases, while industry was simply the handwork at artisan level, the instructional processes were relied heavily upon simple things like the slate, the horn book, the blackboard, and chalk. It was limited to a single text book with a few illustrations. Educational technology was considered synonymous to simple aids like charts and pictures.

The year 1873 may be considered a landmark in the early history of technology of education or audio-visual education. An exhibition was held in Vienna at international level in which an American school won the admiration of the educators for the exhibition of maps, charts, textbooks and other equipments.

Maria Montessori (1870-1952), internationally renowned child educator and the originator of Montessori Method exerted a dynamic impact on educational technology through her development of graded materials designed to provide for the proper sequencing of subject matter for each individual learner. Modern educational technology suggests many extension of Montessori’s idea of prepared child centered environment.

In1833, Charles Babbage’s design of a general purpose computing device laid the foundation of the modern computer and in 1943, the first computing machine as per hi design was constructed by International Business Machines Corporation in USA. The Computer Assisted instruction (CAI) in which the computer functions essentially as a tutor as well as the Talking Type writer was developed by O.K. Moore in 1966. Since 1974, computers are interestingly used in education in schools, colleges and universities.

In the beginning of the 19th century, there were noteworthy changes in the field of education. British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), right from its start of school broadcasts in 1920 had maintained rapid pace in making sound contribution to formal education. In the USA, by 1952, 20 states had the provision for educational broadcasting. Parallel to this time about 98% of the schools in United Kingdom were equipped with radios and there were regular daily programmes.

Sidney L. Pressey, a psychologist of Ohio state university developed a self-teaching machine called ‘Drum Tutor’ in 1920. Professor Skinner, however, in his famous article ‘Science of Learning and art of Teaching’ published in 1945 pleaded for the application of the knowledge derived from behavioral psychology to classroom procedures and suggested automated teaching devices as means of doing so.

Although the first practical use of Regular television broadcasts was in Germany in 1929 and in 1936 the Olympic Games in Berlin were broadcasted through television stations in Berlin, Open circuit television began to be used primarily for broadcasting programmes for entertainment in 1950. Since 1960, television is used for educational purposes.

In 1950, Brynmor, in England, used educational technological steps for the first time. It is to be cared that in 1960, as a result of industrial revolution in America and Russia, other countries also started progressing in the filed of educational technology. In this way, the beginning of educational technology took place in 1960 from America and Russia and now it has reached England, Europe and India.

During the time of around 1950s, new technocracy was turning it attraction to educations when there was a steep shortage of teachers in America and therefore an urgent need of educational technology was felt. Dr. Alvin C. Eurich and a little later his associate, Dr. Alexander J. Stoddard introduced mass production technology in America.

Team teaching had its origin in America in the mid of 1950’s and was first started in the year 1955 at Harvard University as a part of internship plan.

In the year 1956, Benjamin Bloom from USA introduced the taxonomy of educational objectives through his publication, “The Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, The Classification of Educational Goals, Handbook I: Cognitive Domain”.

In 1961, Micro teaching technique was first adopted by Dwight W. Allen and his co-workers at Stanford University in USA.

Electronics is the main technology being developed in the beginning of 21st century. Broadband Internet access became popular and occupied almost all the important offices and educational places and even in common places in developed countries with the advantage of connecting home computers with music libraries and mobile phones.

Today’s classroom is more likely to be a technology lab, a room with rows of students using internet connected or Wi-Fi enabled laptops, palmtops, notepad, or perhaps students are attending a video conferencing or virtual classroom or may have been listening to a podcast or taking in a video lecture. Rapid technological changes in the field of educational have created new ways to teach and to learn. Technological changes also motivated the teachers to access a variety of information on a global scale via the Internet, to enhance their lessons as well as to make them competent professional in their area of concern. At the same time, students can utilize vast resources of the Internet to enrich their learning experience to cope up with changing trend of the society. Now a days students as well teachers are attending seminars, conferences, workshops at national and international level by using the multimedia techno-resources like PowerPoint and even they pursue a variety of important courses of their choice in distance mode via online learning ways. Online learning facility has opened infinite number of doors of opportunities for today’s learner to make their life happier than ever before.

Presently Research Associate in the ICFAI University and have been pursuing PhD from Gauhati University, Assam.

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Is ADD Now TIADD – Technology Induced Attention Deficit Disorder?

TechnologySociety today, ‘Today’ being defined as the time from the late 1980’s to the present, has undergone a rapid evolution in information collection, manipulation, storage and presentation. With the introduction of personal computers, the internet, smart phones and more, the life has been transformed into an environment where information readily becomes available on demand.

Along with this technology, comes greater expectation. Initially, users were limited to certain types of data; internal business data and standard news information, enabling people to provide limited information to management and peers.

As technology has become a focal point of life for most of the developed world, cost has decreased as rapidly as innovation has progressed, making information more accessible and affordable than ever before.

With this reduced cost and more readily available access, new problems have come to light. Business and human process began to rely more on technology. People began to rely on technology to make decisions or mange decisions. In the past, it was only businesses that relied on technology to drive efficiencies, creating expectation previously achieved through people, process and time. Now, personal expectations have been raised, for every aspect of our lives. This fundamental change in expectation is the foundation for our assertion that ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) has manifested itself in many aspects of our lives, both in and out of the workplace; our term for this is Technology Induced Attention Deficit Disorder or TIADD.

Twelve years ago we introduced TIADD to the business community as part of our methodology for resolving business efficiency issues in the workplace. In the late 1990’s, this disorder was manifesting itself regularly in the workplace, however throughout the early 2000’s, TIADD has begun to show up throughout society.

TIADD is a new foundation for inefficiency and vulnerability. An entire generation of worker is being trained to rely solely on technology to collect, analyze, process and distribute information. The inefficiencies are created through lack of planning and understanding of foundational business and personal process, as it relates to an organization or individual prior to technology implementation. Vulnerabilities are created when this technology is implemented with inefficiencies; people are psychologically affected by the negative impact of the technology. Additionally, the individual changes to business and personal process being used to circumvent technology based processes not properly learned, affect the overall performance of individual people, social groups and entire companies. These inefficiencies and vulnerabilities are the foundation for TIADD.

Physiology of the Problem

Since ADD has been determined to be a physiological disorder based on biological problems within the brain; it is important to clarify any physiological association to TIADD. Since, many people already have clinical ADD or ADHD, any condition caused by technology would only be a manifestation of their physiological issues. TIADD is a problem that is societal and caused solely by the introduction and reliance of technology in our current society. I do not begin to imply that TIADD is yet physiological or biological in nature; however I do believe that through evolution of technology and people, it may become a physiological issue.

Sociology of Problem

The sociology of TIADD is very clear. Society has become reliant on technology to streamline every facet of our life. People use technology to streamline communications, write letters analyze numbers. Mechanics utilize technology to diagnose cars, fix internal issues. Medical professionals use technology to quickly diagnose ailments and as reference tools to better understand case studies and application of remedy. Legal and banking professionals utilize technology to manipulate data and research trends or cases to quickly accomplish tasks that once took days, months or even years. And people use technology to forge relationships based on a new level of communication standard, one in which delay can affect the relationship both short and long term.

This change to the very fabric of business and life process has trained people to expect results, based on technology, in less and less time. If and often, when this technology fails to meet the individual, group or company expectations, impatience, distraction, impulsive requirements for information and results, hyper sensitivity to human interaction and a complete lack of social development within many social structures is causing a new uneasiness within society as a whole.

All of these symptoms are used to traditionally diagnose ADD, this onset of symptoms throughout society, is the basis for TIADD.

Technology Induced Attention Deficit Disorder has been established as a disorder, because of the use of psychology during the implementations of technology throughout the world. In analyzing issues related to business process failure, workplace lack of moral and the association to the implementation of technology, a correlation was noted between psychological issues in the workplace and these implementations. In addition, through the interview process of thousands of people, there was a common scenario; people were becoming more impatient and had less ability to function psychologically on problems that were once solved without technology. Additionally, apprehension and an inability to focus on problem solving or understand issues caused by behavior between people seemed to have a root in technology based changes.

These examples are based on issues with people that caused companies to consider technology enhancements, replacements or fixes; for business process and moral problems within their organization. The subjects used for this analysis are from all walks of life around the world.

Collection of Data

The collection of this data was governed by a structured data collection model known as BizVision, a very simple methodology, based on a series of questions, used to gain a high level understanding of the business process of people. The data also includes details about technology usage and individual interaction with other people. All of this data is compiled into a simple database for compilation and review. Models are designed, based on the process answers. Emotional and ability profiles were developed, to help determine the level of education at each position and the ability to teach new process or technologies.

It is during this part of the analysis that the psychological effects and abilities of each worker are reviewed again. We look at our data compilations and uncovered severe apprehension, lack of attention and inability to focus or change, as areas of concern. It is here that we saw TIADD manifest itself.

Our findings are simple and clear. As people have evolved with technology, their expectations for performance and ability to deal with human emotion caused by both personal and business process failures have changed. People have less ability to focus on problem solving, less ability to remain patient and less ability to accept people with less ability than themselves. These flaws and the ensuing result, lack of patience, lack of focus, emotional distress, work induced stress and human conflict at all levels point to TIADD.

People have been programmed into relying on technology to solve problems and solve them quickly. People do not want to offer patience or support to other people who cannot fix problems with the efficiencies expected in a technology based society. These expectations and lack of basic human qualities, once appreciated in society can now be defined as Technology Induced Attention Deficit Disorder.

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The Importance of Information Technology Training from a Management Perspective

Information TechnologyInformation technology training for IT managers and systems analysts may seem superfluous – these folks are usually well-learned in their areas of expertise. But, do they understand how a company’s technology fits into the bigger picture from a business perspective? That’s where management training becomes important. Every manager who plays a role in researching, selecting or implementing enterprise technology needs to have a firm grasp on the basics of emerging technologies, as well as how they serve a larger business purpose, to ensure that technology is being used to the company’s best strategic advantage.

Stay Current on Revolutionary, Emerging Technology Applications

A program of continual information technology training is crucial to the success of any IT team. Technology is constantly evolving, and it seems that there is a new application released every day that is meant to simplify doing business. This can be overwhelming if you do not stay current on the high-level trends of technology and their corresponding impact on business. With the Web 2.0 revolution in full swing, management training is a useful tool for managers to become familiar with the online trends such as blogs, wikis, podcasts and RSS feeds, as well as how the trends are going to change the ways we view the Internet and communicate with each other. It is estimated that these technologies will have significant business impact in the coming years, and companies everywhere have to consider directly how it affects their business strategies.

Information technology training can help managers determine the impact of new technologies and how to adapt their business processes. Trying to envision how Web 2.0 changes traditional business models is difficult when you have no knowledge of how these new technical applications are being used from a business perspective. First and foremost, managers must take it upon themselves to become proactive by keeping abreast of emerging trends and understanding them not only from a technical standpoint, but evaluating them from a higher-level, strategic standpoint. Management training courses on technology focus specifically on the ways that emerging technologies affect businesses on a high level. This is the type of knowledge needed to make conscious and informed decisions on what aspects of new technologies will affect your organization in the next few years and transition your thoughts into strategic action and implementation.

Collaboration and information sharing, within and outside of enterprises, are two areas that have made huge strides that management training can help your organization harness to improve business strategies. The advent of user-created content sharing has transformed the way that enterprises communicate. Enterprise-class blogs and wikis boost productivity and innovation by enabling ad hoc teams to participate in complex, collaborative problem solving, and then make the results available to the rest of the organization with ease. Information technology training gives managers the high-level information about these technologies that they need to bring them effectively into your organization.

Large companies will often struggle the most with adopting new business strategies based on emerging technologies due to organizational inertia and the lag that comes from changing any integrated system. Not only do the right people need to be convinced of the value of a new application, but the proper infrastructure often needs to be developed or tweaked to implement the technology. This is where the importance of management information technology training to understand the potential impact of technology from a business perspective comes into play.

Management Training for Appropriate Technology Selection and Recommendation

Management training courses typically deal with logistics and personnel management but fail to guide managers when it comes to making decisions about technology. As a manager in today’s world, what really matters isn’t just your ability to lead and maintain technology infrastructure – it’s your ability to deliver positive business outcomes. Cutting IT costs and managing infrastructure are only part of the equation. Technology must also reduce business risk and generate new opportunities and growth. Information technology training can help managers transition their views of technology as an isolated island off the coast of a business and look at it as one working part of the whole machine that is the organization.

Finding a cool application that has all the shiny bells and whistles you dreamed of and recommending implementation based on the technology’s sheer innovation is no longer enough to make a good business case. Before presenting a recommendation, you must understand every step involved with the successful implementation of the technology. A thorough study will need to be conducted to determine what departments, processes and functions will need to be modified in order to benefit from the new technology. Management training courses focusing on information technology gives managers the tools they need to make that determination.

If you are going to make an impact on the decision makers of a business, you have to get on their level. When it comes down to making a decision, for many business people it is all about the numbers. That is why it is essential to participate in information technology training courses that help you perform your due diligence and gather the data you need to compile hard numbers around your recommendation. What is the true return on investment that the company can expect to achieve by implementing the technology? It is much easier to convince an associate of the merits of your idea if you can show a real increase in profit based on proven research instead of attempting to sway them based on opinion only.

Conclusion

Technology is rapidly changing the way that businesses communicate and function every day. It is important for managers to take a proactive role in understanding emerging technology trends and how they may affect a company’s business model by investing in an ongoing program of information technology training for all levels of staff. Management training in particular is essential for ensuring the right technologies are pursued to ensure business success. Viewing technology as a direct influencer on the business as a whole ensures consistent alignment of goals throughout the enterprise.

Mark Rogers is the president and CEO of WestLake Training + Development, which he purchased in 2005. After spending 10 years managing strategic accounts and developing new business for DDB Needham Worldwide and Ketchum Communications, Mark was co-founder of Virtualogic, which was one of the country’s fastest-growing I.T. professional services firms. In 1999 Mark joined LifeMinders, Inc, a direct marketing “dot com”, where he served as vice president, business development. To learn more about information technology training

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Increase Technology Funding, Implementation – Find Money for Education Technology in General Budget

Technology FundingPolicymakers throughout all educational levels are wrestling with the cold, hard truth that the original funding of new equipment and software is the tip of the funding iceberg. In the ’80s we called this the “hidden costs.” In the ’90s we were so excited about all the new gadgets that we forgot to worry about anything else. Now, in the new century, we are wondering how we can afford to keep the tools our administrators, teachers, parents and students are finally putting to good use.

As the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) states in their Total Cost of Ownership white paper, “While many government and private programs provide the means of obtaining the much-needed technology for schools, there are few provisions for the necessary ongoing support of these technologies. School districts, having installed much of the technologies needed for classroom, administrative and community communications functions, are fast becoming aware of the support problems and need to budget for the ongoing support costs.” These monies are often the last priority of any school entity.

With the revolving threat of federal funds elimination for E-Rate and EETT (Enhancing Education Through Technology) funds, districts must find their own reliable and ongoing funding sources, and state and federal leadership would do well to help calculate and take into consideration total cost of ownership. Seeing the big picture is a necessity.

General Budget Technology Funding

To compound the funding dilemma, many education leaders have yet to realize that technology is no longer a separate entity. Technology use is an everyday occurrence in every school in every district, at one level or another. Unfortunately, many education policy leaders have not revised their general budgets to support the proven ways technology improves the work and goals of the local education agencies (LEAs). Leaders who consider technology a “black hole” (as one administrator once told me) are burying their heads in the sand and should be made aware or trained.

Those who set the general fund budget should be informed of the successes from districts that have recreated education budgeting and work practices. These districts take advantage of technology to increase business efficiency and advance student learning, thus saving money and truly educating students while helping meet No Child Left Behind mandates:

One of the strongest organizations of high performing school districts west of the Mississippi River is the Western States Benchmarking Consortium. These districts constantly score above the norm on tests, have high graduation rates, and have lower dropout rates when compared with similar and dissimilar demographics. All of these school districts were early adopters of technology and have used it to support teachers, students and their business teams.
Assistant Superintendent John Q. Porter of Montgomery County Public Schools, an outstanding school district on the East Coast, stated in the June issue of District Administration magazine, “Our enemy is time, and technology is the only way [to combat that]. Still, there are people who don’t understand the importance of technology because they fear it. One of the first things you realize in technology is that technology is change; those who fail in developing systems don’t understand the dynamic of change.”
Two years ago, Poway Unified School District was going to hire 32 new teachers. The technology department used their data warehousing tool to show district leaders they needed only 25 teachers. The leadership followed their advice instead of following old trends, and their estimation proved correct. The district saved approximately $350,000 in salaries — more than the cost of the data warehouse installation.
Student assessments have changed. Trish Williams and Michael Kirst, in their article “School Practices that Matter” (Leadership Magazine, March/April 2006), state high performing districts must have assessments that align with state standards and have the ability to quickly inform teachers of results. Online assessments give policymakers a choice of how to properly assess students to support learning, with 24 hours or quicker result reporting. This should be a common practice to support the students and meet NCLB mandates.

RELATED STORY: Find More Money for Budget and Technology [http://www.convergemag.com/summary.php?catid=418]

All budgets, despite project or department, must be completely reviewed to see how technology can support and make the end product more successful. Additionally, policy leaders must continue to research what new innovations will be appearing in the near future and analyze how these new tools will impact education programs in their local education agencies. All must be in a continual learning mode and work together to envision how we can help put students on a path to continual intellectual growth. Following are some steps to start down the path toward properly utilizing general funds for the support of technology.

Funding Where There was None

Step 1: Evaluate and Prioritize

Data-driven decision-making is a fundamental part of this first step. Generally, there are three areas from which data should be gathered: instructional and business demands, the infrastructure to support those demands, and the equipment and software needed to meet those demands.

Instructional and business demands: these demands are driven by district objectives, community expectations, state and federal mandates, funding constraints and labor union guidelines. Expectations are increasingly high for districts to produce students who perform well on standardized tests and exhibit good citizenship. The business side of education exists to support the learning activities that will meet these expectations.
The infrastructure to support those demands: LEAs’ infrastructure consists of multiple components. Every two to three years, structural components should be reviewed. Telephones, data, alarm, networks and general physical condition of buildings must be assessed to understand what repairs and upgrades are needed. Funding is available in many states under deferred maintenance, or in operational and maintenance restricted funds. If a comprehensive plan is developed and followed, districts can ensure this major building block for support of education will be set in place.
Equipment and software to meet those demands: with the first two areas in place, an intelligent decision can be made regarding the purchase of software, computers and other related equipment that will work with the existing infrastructure and meet the district’s instructional and business demands.

Attaining these goals may require more than one year. It is also highly probable that goals will change over time. It is wise, therefore, to create a multi-year plan that is agile and modifiable.

Part of supporting technology is providing a maintenance, replacement or obsolescence fund, typically fed from districts’ general funds. Too often a majority of technology dollars are spent simply maintaining the status quo. The challenge is to meet the continual need for growth in the areas of technology for online assessments, home-to-school communication, 24/7 access to learning resources and virtual or distance learning.

Step 2: Partnerships

LEAs can benefit from partnerships with local and national businesses in two major ways. First, businesses use general funds to support technology, and business leaders can share funding and maintenance best practices with educational policymakers. Second, business partners can donate equipment or money to support technology innovations in education.

True partnerships support all parties involved. Such partnerships can be large or small, because any amount of funding will help. Large corporations often have several different funding sources. IBM, for instance, has the Academic Initiative and an alliance with the Computer Science Teachers Association to provide free software and curriculum planning. Intel offers multiple grant programs, as does Microsoft. Smaller companies, even the mom and pop donut shop, can and will support their neighborhood school.

Step 3: Form Foundations

If a community understands its local districts’ funding constraints, they are often willing to extend financial assistance by creating a foundation. While foundations are helpful overall, they should be avoided for individual school sites, as they generally increase inequities that already exist. Schools in more affluent neighborhoods may have foundations that raise $100,000 or more annually, while schools in less affluent areas may only raise $5,000 or have no foundation, and will obviously be unable to support their student learning projects.

Step 4: New Uses for Old Technologies

Thin client (a network computer without a hard disk drive, which is designed to be especially small so that the bulk of the data processing occurs on the server) is one way to use old equipment to run new software, where old computers can become “dumb terminals” and run new applications from the server. This solution requires a sound network foundation and server structure, but can reduce replacement costs and decrease technology support staff needs.

Step 5: Give Grants a Chance

Where are the grants? Too many education decision-makers and leaders, especially at the high school level, do not realize that state and federal grants are much easier to obtain if their free and reduced lunch count is 40 percent or more. It is important for educators to have accurate data and a high percentage in this area for funding sources such as E-Rate, EETT, or other related sources. In addition, ferreting out grant money can augment general funds to support student learning with technology.

The Road to Affording Ed Tech

General budget funding must be realigned to match the needs of local education agencies. This will help both the learning and business aspects of a school. These funds may initially need supplemental support, but educators must be aware of the benefits of technology. We must intelligently commit funding for the educational growth of all our children.

Leasing Equipment

Last year, the Poway Unified School District had to replace approximately 3,000 Windows 95 computers. These computers would not run the Web browser needed for their data reporting tool or the majority of teacher Web pages. The memory and speed of the computers were insufficient to run most of the enterprise-wide educational software available over their wide area network (WAN) and local area networks (LANs).

The district had less than $1 million per year available for this project. Leasing was discussed. The amount the district had for support was ongoing, so the question was, could a lease agreement that guaranteed a vendor an ongoing fixed dollar amount for several years also guarantee the district a continuing flow of up-to-date technology equipment?

The district obtained a four-year lease with three vendors, with an agreement at the end of four years to rotate the machines out with a new lease agreement. Additional cost savings included the maintenance agreement — vendor responsibility for all repairs during the lease period.

Thin Client

Districts throughout New York and New Jersey have discovered how to use thin client technology to make old computers new again. During the late 1990s, thin client was dismissed as too slow and too expensive to be useful in most school districts. This perception has changed in business, as in education, with greater network speed via WAN and LAN technologies, and tremendous server cost reductions.

In a thin client environment, workstations do not store programs but rather receive everything from a system of servers (one server for about 20 workstations). When servers were $20,000 each, this was cost prohibitive. Today, servers that can support thin client cost about $3,500, allowing quick communication with workstations and a cost-saving solution.

Total Cost of Ownership

How can policy leaders find the true cost of supporting equipment? The Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) and the Gartner Group have an online tool that will assist in the estimation of this cost for various levels of technology.

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What Is the Relevance of Technology?

Technology 2“Technology in the long-run is irrelevant”. That is what a customer of mine told me when I made a presentation to him about a new product. I had been talking about the product’s features and benefits and listed “state-of-the-art technology” or something to that effect, as one of them. That is when he made his statement. I realized later that he was correct, at least within the context of how I used “Technology” in my presentation. But I began thinking about whether he could be right in other contexts as well.

What is Technology?

Merriam-Webster defines it as:

1

a: the practical application of knowledge especially in a particular area: engineering 2 <medical technology>

b: a capability given by the practical application of knowledge <a car’s fuel-saving technology>

2

: a manner of accomplishing a task especially using technical processes, methods, or knowledge

3

: the specialized aspects of a particular field of endeavor <educational technology>

Wikipedia defines it as:

Technology (from Greek tέ???, techne, “art, skill, cunning of hand”; and -???ίa, -logia[1]) is the making, modification, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems, and methods of organization, in order to solve a problem, improve a preexisting solution to a problem, achieve a goal, handle an applied input/output relation or perform a specific function. It can also refer to the collection of such tools, including machinery, modifications, arrangements and procedures. Technologies significantly affect human as well as other animal species’ ability to control and adapt to their natural environments. The term can either be applied generally or to specific areas: examples include construction technology, medical technology, and information technology.

Both definitions revolve around the same thing – application and usage.

Technology is an enabler

Many people mistakenly believe it is technology which drives innovation. Yet from the definitions above, that is clearly not the case. It is opportunity which defines innovation and technology which enables innovation. Think of the classic “Build a better mousetrap” example taught in most business schools. You might have the technology to build a better mousetrap, but if you have no mice or the old mousetrap works well, there is no opportunity and then the technology to build a better one becomes irrelevant. On the other hand, if you are overrun with mice then the opportunity exists to innovate a product using your technology.

Another example, one with which I am intimately familiar, are consumer electronics startup companies. I’ve been associated with both those that succeeded and those that failed. Each possessed unique leading edge technologies. The difference was opportunity. Those that failed could not find the opportunity to develop a meaningful innovation using their technology. In fact to survive, these companies had to morph oftentimes into something totally different and if they were lucky they could take advantage of derivatives of their original technology. More often than not, the original technology wound up in the scrap heap. Technology, thus, is an enabler whose ultimate value proposition is to make improvements to our lives. In order to be relevant, it needs to be used to create innovations that are driven by opportunity.

Technology as a competitive advantage?

Many companies list a technology as one of their competitive advantages. Is this valid? In some cases yes, but In most cases no.

Technology develops along two paths – an evolutionary path and a revolutionary path.

A revolutionary technology is one which enables new industries or enables solutions to problems that were previously not possible. Semiconductor technology is a good example. Not only did it spawn new industries and products, but it spawned other revolutionary technologies – transistor technology, integrated circuit technology, microprocessor technology. All which provide many of the products and services we consume today. But is semiconductor technology a competitive advantage? Looking at the number of semiconductor companies that exist today (with new ones forming every day), I’d say not. How about microprocessor technology? Again, no. Lots of microprocessor companies out there. How about quad core microprocessor technology? Not as many companies, but you have Intel, AMD, ARM, and a host of companies building custom quad core processors (Apple, Samsung, Qualcomm, etc). So again, not much of a competitive advantage. Competition from competing technologies and easy access to IP mitigates the perceived competitive advantage of any particular technology. Android vs iOS is a good example of how this works. Both operating systems are derivatives of UNIX. Apple used their technology to introduce iOS and gained an early market advantage. However, Google, utilizing their variant of Unix (a competing technology), caught up relatively quickly. The reasons for this lie not in the underlying technology, but in how the products made possible by those technologies were brought to market (free vs. walled garden, etc.) and the differences in the strategic visions of each company.

Evolutionary technology is one which incrementally builds upon the base revolutionary technology. But by it’s very nature, the incremental change is easier for a competitor to match or leapfrog. Take for example wireless cellphone technology. Company V introduced 4G products prior to Company A and while it may have had a short term advantage, as soon as Company A introduced their 4G products, the advantage due to technology disappeared. The consumer went back to choosing Company A or Company V based on price, service, coverage, whatever, but not based on technology. Thus technology might have been relevant in the short term, but in the long term, became irrelevant.

In today’s world, technologies tend to quickly become commoditized, and within any particular technology lies the seeds of its own death.

Technology’s Relevance

This article was written from the prospective of an end customer. From a developer/designer standpoint things get murkier. The further one is removed from the technology, the less relevant it becomes. To a developer, the technology can look like a product. An enabling product, but a product nonetheless, and thus it is highly relevant. Bose uses a proprietary signal processing technology to enable products that meet a set of market requirements and thus the technology and what it enables is relevant to them. Their customers are more concerned with how it sounds, what’s the price, what’s the quality, etc., and not so much with how it is achieved, thus the technology used is much less relevant to them.

Recently, I was involved in a discussion on Google+ about the new Motorola X phone. A lot of the people on those posts slammed the phone for various reasons – price, locked boot loader, etc. There were also plenty of knocks on the fact that it didn’t have a quad-core processor like the S4 or HTC One which were priced similarly. What they failed to grasp is that whether the manufacturer used 1, 2, 4, or 8 cores in the end makes no difference as long as the phone can deliver a competitive (or even best of class) feature set, functionality, price, and user experience. The iPhone is one of the most successful phones ever produced, and yet it runs on a dual-core processor. It still delivers one of the best user experiences on the market. The features that are enabled by the technology are what are relevant to the consumer, not the technology itself.

The relevance of technology therefore, is as an enabler, not as a product feature or a competitive advantage, or any myriad of other things – an enabler. Looking at the Android operating system, it is an impressive piece of software technology, and yet Google gives it away. Why? Because standalone, it does nothing for Google. Giving it away allows other companies to use their expertise to build products and services which then act as enablers for Google’s products and services. To Google, that’s where the real value is.

The possession of or access to a technology is only important for what it enables you to do – create innovations which solve problems. That is the real relevance of technology.

The Adverse Effects Of Technology

(NOTE) The following is an excerpt of my upcoming book entitled, “MORPHING INTO THE REAL WORLD – THE HANDBOOK FOR ENTERING THE WORK FORCE.”

Today, our society is driven by technology and some would accuse me of being an anti-technologist. Having been actively involved with the Information Technology industry over the last 30 years, I can assure you this is simply not true. I have witnessed many different technological enhancements over the years, but what intriques me most is how it affects us socially. I firmly believe technology is purchased more as a fashion statement as opposed to any practical application. Consequently, we tend to under utilize or abuse the technology thereby costing companies millions of dollars. Instead of “Ready, Aim, Fire,” people tend to, “Fire, Aim, Ready.” In other words, people tend to implement the latest technology before they understand precisely what it is or what business need it serves. To me, this is putting the cart before the horse.

Perhaps the biggest difference between the 20th century and the 21st is how technology has changed the pace of our lives. We now expect to communicate with anyone on the planet in seconds, not days. We expect information at our fingertips. We expect to be up and walking shortly after a hip or knee replacement. Basically, we take a lot for granted. But this frenzied pace has also altered how we conduct business and live our lives. To illustrate, we want to solve problems immediately, and have no patience for long term solutions. Consequently, we tend to attack symptoms as opposed to addressing true problems, and apply Band-Aids to pacify the moment as opposed to tourniquets which are actually needed. We are easily satisfied with solving small problems as opposed to conquering major challenges. Personally, we tend to live for today, as opposed to planning for tomorrow. This mindset concerns me greatly.

What if someone pulled the plug on our technology? Would engineers still know how to draft products? Would we still know how to ship a product or process an order? Would our financial transactions come to a halt? Would business come to a standstill? The answer, unfortunately, is Yes. This highlights the overt dependency we have developed on our technology and is cause for alarm. We are being driven by technology as opposed to the other way around. By unplugging our technology, we are unplugging the human-being. Think I’m wrong? Watch what happens the next time the power goes out at your office or home.

Because of the domination of technology, people have allowed their socialization skills to slip. Small things, such as common courtesy, appearance, and our ability to network with others, have all deteriorated in the workplace. We may be effective in communicating electronically, but we are becoming complete failures in communicating socially. Throughout the book I mention how people act on perceptions, right or wrong. These perceptions are based in large part on our ability to communicate, such as through the messages we transmit verbally or written, our appearance, our body language, and how we treat others. If we cannot communicate effectively in this capacity, no amount of technology will be able to alter the perceptions of our coworkers, our managers, our customers, our vendors, or our friends and family.

To this end, I have introduced a new Bryce’s Law:
“As the use of technology increases, social skills decreases.”

 

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How to Select an Information Technology Consultant for your Business

Choosing the right information technology consultant for your business can be a critical business decision. The computer and network support company you choose directly impacts your productivity, your flexibility, and even your bottom line. Technology plays an integral role in today’s business world. Blackberries, laptops, email and instant messenger have all become tools of the trade when communicating with clients. But what happens when your email goes down? Or when you can’t connect to the internet to collect time-sensitive data for a customer? The benefits of technology can come at a price, and it is times like these when businesses, especially smaller companies, need a reliable IT partner who can reduce downtime. You may think the number one criteria when selecting an information technology consultant should be expertise. Although expertise is definitely a deciding factor, a potential computer and network support company’s customer service approach should be considered closely as well. After all, what good is an expert when you can’t get in touch with him to fix your critical IT issues?

The Difference Between an IT Partner and a Vendor

It may seem like semantics, but there is a real difference between a network support company that signs on to be your IT partner and an information technology consultant that is just another vendor selling applications and services. An IT partner should have a customer service model that aligns with the long-term goals of its clients and is focused on helping to grow clients’ businesses.

Many computer and network support companies’ approach to customer service leaves something to be desired. You call to schedule an on-site visit because your network is having issues, and it is slowing your turn-around time down to a snail’s pace. You get a call back four hours later from an employee that you have never spoken with before. They can come, but it will have to be tomorrow or possibly Monday, because all of their guys are working on a network issue at a major law firm. To these vendors, your company is just another small fish in a sea of bigger clients.

To an information technology consultant that is a true partner, your business, whether large or small, is their business. A network support company that take the partner approach does not take technical issues lightly because they understand that IT can make or break a company. A partner takes the time to get to know the ins and outs of your business from day one. They understand what your company needs, from a technological perspective, to be successful, and they will not only provide that, but also offer advice on how to use technology to grow your business. Overall, this type of information technology consultant provides much more than services – they act as an extension of your business.

Signs of a Dependable Computer and Network Support Company

When searching for the right computer and network support company, you should keep an eye out for some tell-tale signs that will provide insight into whether the partner you are considering is a good fit for your company. First, ask the following questions when researching potential partners:

Will my company be assigned one individual who will act as our primary information technology consultant? If the potential computer and network support company says no, then there is a good chance that you will be talking to someone different every time you call in with an issue. This can get tricky because when more than one person is responsible for your account, your requests can slip through the cracks. Also, the blame game will likely occur with this scenario – “I thought Bob said that he was going to call you back.”
Can you tell me about your escalation process when dealing with client issues? This is an essential question because some issues are more time-sensitive than others and, if your information technology consultant is unavailable, you need to know what back-up plan measures are in place to expedite resolution of your issues.
Will my IT contact be able to break down technical jargon into something I can understand? Most of us are not as technically savvy as our IT consultants – after all, that is why we hired them! There is nothing worse than paying top dollar for technical expertise but not being able to understand a word the expert says. And, some consultants come off as down right egotistical when they fail to notice that you are lost as they are describing your network infrastructure. A good information technology consultant has the technical smarts but knows how to communicate so that even the least technically savvy person in the group can follow.
Use your instincts – you can usually glean a lot from your first conversation with a potential IT and network support company. If your questions seem to stump them or, if they act as if they are hurried, expect more of the same behavior in the future. A network support company whose focus is on partnership will likely play an integral role in achieving your company’s long-term goals. That is why it is essential to treat the research and selection process as if you are hiring on a full-time employee.

Conclusion

There are many factors to consider when searching for the right information technology consultant. The selection process will be unique to a certain extent for each company, but asking key questions about the potential computer and network support company’s service should help single out the best candidates. Most companies will agree that a blend of expertise and a dependable customer service model make for a good IT partner.

 

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