We’re all looking for funds to improve our technology picture in schools. With the advent of blended learning (see my article last time), we find we will need equipment and software to fulfill the promises of this model.
It used to be that we would write grants for “computer labs”. We’d create projects that required the use of big desktop computers that took up four big library tables in the media center. I’m a former Library Media Specialist so I know how this bandwagon evolved. I was a contrarian at the time, and thought we were spending too much time and money on big mechanical boxes at the expense of our book budgets.
We all grow up eventually (me included). Now we’re looking at other ways of doing things. New tablet computers are taking the place of the boxes (thank goodness). There is still a place for big powerful computers, but portable laptop labs are filling these needs.
Software used to come in boxes with CD-ROMs that needed to be installed on big servers at the district level. The IT person would always wince when he saw me coming; a new CD was involved and his fears for data security were always being tested. In his defense, he was always willing to listen and in the end, he would install the new learning tools so students would be able to use them.
Now, we have Saas, Software as a Service, and “the cloud”. We now subscribe to software that is maintained on a server somewhere else. This saves money and time for budget strapped schools. No more big rooms with loud servers that need refrigeration and an entire staff to maintain them.
Grant providers are up to date on all the new technologies and they are happy to step in and help schools stay current. It’s in their best interest to adjust their funding practices as things change. Our old grant narratives are still useful too, don’t ever throw them out. In fact, something I do is go through old grants every once in awhile, to update ideas and language to support them in new applications. Sometimes, where technology is concerned, the background need is still there, we’re just using new tools to address the learning deficits that always remain, once we’ve analyzed the test scores.
One way grant writers can update their outlook is by applying for funds for professional development initiatives. Sit with your curriculum team; get yourself invited to those meetings, even the tech team meetings. It will help you to stay abreast of new thinking and new technologies. You can hire consultants and professional development organizations to help you and your teachers learn best practices for applying new technologies.
A Google search on this subject brought up the Intel for Education website. They’ve done a nice job of laying it all out for us, and they’re actively involved in providing the professional development to go along with it. When I’m researching things like this, I sometimes reject commercial sites because their motives are transparent. I’m changing my thinking on this, especially when I bump into sites and services like this. Nice job, Intel. Of special interest, Intel’s Project Red and the professional development opportunities that go with it. They are developing loyalty; it is in their best interest.
Edutopia provides guidance on providing professional development for integrating technology into the classroom.
Some other resources include:
- What are we learning about technology and professional development?
- National Center for Education Statistics
- Virginia Department of Education
If you’re like me, you don’t like meetings very much. However, now is the time to be invited to all those team meetings so you can help teachers develop better projects to provide professional development for new technologies. Now is the time that planning is in progress for next year (Yikes!).Tell them you’ll bring the donuts!