Musings: The Decisions School Leaders Make

Mar 18, 2014 by

I saw this headline recently:  Miami-Dade to Give Teachers 18 Months of Interactive Whiteboard Training.

Before I discuss this headline, please understand that I have a healthy amount of respect for school leaders.  The pressures from the outside are great.  The pressures from inside are greater.  School leaders have to motivate teachers who are immune to any real consequences in a lot of cases.  They have to help manage students who may have no home/parental support.  They have to juggle budgets and work with lawmakers and boards of education.   AND they have to do this while answering to the media when a 14 year-old does something immature or a teacher’s class does not perform well.   I am lucky that I have the chance to work with a lot (A LOT) of really, really good school leaders.

But, unfortunately, I also work with districts that are far, far behind and, it seems, want to stay that way.  As I read the rest of this article, I just grew… sadder.  Sad for leaders who aren’t up-to-date, teachers who are going to find it just as hard to engage students as they always have, communities that see their tax money being wasted and, mostly, sad for students that will continue to be educated in non-personal ways because their system is outdated.

Miami-Dade Whiteboards

I believe that Miami-Dade is doing some really good things.  I have read about their approach to using 1:1 devices.  Go slow, think through it, get it right, avoid the L.A. example.  In short, this: Miami-Dade schools laptop and tablet plan back on track after pause.   I appreciate that they are training the teachers on how to use the whiteboards and not just putting them in the classrooms to collect dust.  But…and this is a big but, I also wonder how spending a huge amount of money to put Promethean Boards in over 10,000 classrooms is justified when there are so many cheaper examples.  The second comment below says it all…

Miami Dade II- Comments

Here is the Johnny Lee Video “KB” references:

The article doesn’t say how much Miami-Dade spent on the Promethean Boards and the training but here is a link to Promethean’s Product Cost list.

I wonder what would happen if the district spent that money providing training to teachers on devices that students already have and providing devices for students that need them.  While they are rolling out a 1:1/BYOD plan, why is the money being spent on Promethean Boards not being used for training on strategies for learning and school infrastructure?  Why would we purchase one Whiteboard for a class when every student can download a FREE whiteboard app on their device and we can project from their device onto the wall wirelessly?

So, anyway, I am disappointed because while I do believe the leaders in Miami-Dade are trying to do the right thing by upgrading technology, I wonder if this is the best possible use of time and money.  As a colleague of mine said, “This would be a great headline if it was 10 years ago.  Now it is almost laughable if it wasn’t so sad.”

In the meantime, for those interested in other ways to have whiteboards in your class without spending a ridiculous amount of money, here are some free/low-cost tools that can be used on personal learning devices.  

Whiteboard iPad apps

Mirroring/Projection Tools

Educreations  (Monday Success Story) Mobile Projector Pro
Whiteboard + Calculator Doceri
Whiteboard-Fast Drawing Splashtop Classroom
Whiteboard X 2 Reflector

 

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