Rediscovering My Library/Information Science Pride

I’ve been out of the library media specialist game for five and a half years now. The economic downturn saw to that. In my next act I was re-purposed as a technology coach – for a lack of a better, more universally understood term. That was a good gig too, but I can’t say I ever found SMART Board training a good use of my time – nor was doing a run down of the drop down menus on an application, but that was the popular work. I enjoyed helping students with databases or understanding Boolean logic much more than your average Google Apps run through. I’ll even take plagiarism and copyright over explaining how to create a quiz in Moodle.

For whatever reason, I’m remembering and reflecting on that right now – and I never have before. I’m trying to track back what triggered this realization, but I can’t put a finger on it. Lately I’ve been really interested in the usually business centric-world of information systems and wondered why there wasn’t more cross over between the two. Information systems is often cited as a great and growing field to be getting into. On the other hand, library science is often considered the worst. Why don’t these two disciplines find easier intersections or common paths together?

For me it’s always been more about connecting online – to find the info you need or meet up with people who can help build on the work you’ve done. That for me is where the exciting stuff is. Give me Howard Rheingold any day and I’m in 7th heaven. Digging in deep on how our brains work online was a recent topic in Wired. What I really enjoyed about this piece was thinking about how we think online and trying to unravel that rats nest of how our brain works. So cool to me…

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying one this in better than the other – library/information skills vs tech integration. They are both needed skills for learning leaders in schools. I’m simply saying that I’m and information science geek and I’m proud of it. I’m going to work to find more connections this year between information science and information systems.

Wish me luck!

After School PD #EpicFail

After 12 year of experience in professional development over 4 different districts – some large with over 20 buildings, and others just with a single building, I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt, after school PD that is optional is a bridge to nowhere. Folks will tell you – “Tuesday’s don’t work…if you have it on Thursdays, then I’ll come.” And someone will tell you the exact opposite. It’s not that folks don’t care or don’t want to improve – life is just plain busy – and if it’s not something required of you per the contract, more often than not, it’s not going to happen.

A friend in another district has a good thing going with face-to-face PD and also with leveraging Atomic Learning. The main difference is that it’s part of the work day. Another had the same experience, all the staff learning took place during the work day. The work has to happen during the contract, or more often then not, it won’t happen. So many other initiatives suck up the PD time, that there isn’t much left these days after that. If we want to move the needle past what Doug Johnson wrote about this week with $3,400 pieces of chalk and $9,000 solutions for spiral notebooks, the work needs to be prioritized.

Desktops Can Still Do It – Virtualization Isn’t the Answer to Everything

Run from desktops…we were told a couple of years ago. Desktop computers are old and antiquated…only people that “don’t get it” will keep them around. Go wireless or get laughed out of the tech conference.

But, we live in reality and there is still a place for them – as Miguel Guhlin has written about before. In my experience other options to run high-end applications just don’t work.

I inherited a virtualization project. The partner that helped with installation made a big deal out of it, like it was the wave of the future for schools with a 1:1 initiative. Honestly, I wasn’t much help in the project because of my lack of knowledge with the technology. Looking back, it couldn’t have gone any worse. I remember back in the day having some thin clients, but kids didn’t find them useful because you couldn’t us an old timey (now old timey) spining 3.5 inch floppy disk (this was 2003). So, I shouldn’t have been all that surprised that this didn’t work out.

On the surface it might seem to make sense – you’re buying cheap wireless devices that don’t have a lot of processing, so have host servers do the heavy lifting. What confused me the most through the whole process was teachers saying they were told that they could wirelessly run InDesign or SolidWorks…not problem.

Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight

I’ve learned enough networking on the job to be barely dangerous, but that claim made no sense to me.  30 computers on 1 AP trying to pull resources to run an application. I can’t show the detailed arithmetic outside of that, but the math doesn’t add up.

There was and continues to be a lot of buzz about outsourcing, virtualizing and going to the cloud, but I think ed tech needs to get back to some basic things that just flat work. Labs aren’t the wave of the future but, in some instances a good old desktop with locally installed programs is all that you need to do to meet your learning goals for the day.

Long live the desktop! Yes, it’s death was greatly exaggerated.