Sunday, July 12, 2009

Weast: No e-mail but tech-savvy?

Today is Leadership Day on the Dangerously Irrelevant blog! This is a day to discuss technology use in school systems and in specific, how can administrators use technology effectively. The Dangerously Irrelevant blog author, Scott McLeod, offers some suggested questions for discussion today. Here is one of the suggested questions:

Do administrators have to be technology-savvy themselves in order to be effective technology leaders in their organizations?

Two observations on this question from a Montgomery County parent perspective:

First, here in Montgomery County, we have a Tech-Savvy Superintendent, or so we were told by eSchool News in 2008. But a close look at the award revealed that one of the sponsors was Promethean. Within months of that award, Montgomery County Public Schools would go from a few hundred Promethean Boards in classrooms to 3,300 in a no bid, no contract, lease that was not approved by a public vote of the Board of Education.

Meanwhile, it seems that Promethean has competitors. There is SmartBoard and the Eno Board. It is particularly interesting that the Eno Board allows users to write on it with dry-erase markers, something that Promethean Boards prohibit. The inability to use dry-erase markers on the 3,300 Promethean Boards in MCPS has necessitated the use of covers and warnings to community users of school classrooms. A side by side comparison of interactive white boards might have yielded some interesting public discussion and competitive bids would have guaranteed taxpayers the best possible price. Was our Superintendent aware of the alternatives and differences in these products? Our Superintendent appears to leave all technology procurements up to staff.

Second, MCPS' tech-savvy superintendent doesn't permit the community to communicate with him directly via an e-mail address. We know that he has an individual e-mail address because he has given it out to select individuals and professional publications. The lack of a public e-mail address gives the impression of a superintendent who is not up on the latest communication tools.

It could be argued that in order to be an educated consumer of technology one should be comfortable and familiar with the products being purchased. If a superintendent isn't tech-savvy it would be like someone buying a car that didn't know how to drive. Would that person be able to make the best purchase?

At a minimum superintendents who do not make themselves available via a public e-mail address give the impression of not being comfortable with this commonly used communication tool.

Please post your thoughts on the question posed, or on any other question on this topic, to the comments section of this blog post. This blog post has been linked back to the Dangerously Irrelevant blog and your comments will become part of the national discussion!

1 comment:

  1. July 14, 2009
    Tech-Savvy Superintendent Weast to parent,"I don't do e-mail"


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