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Warm and Fuzzy, but Insecure: One School's Journey To the Cutting Edge

By Gerald Wilson, Ph.D.
Nov 6 2008 7:58PM

from Educators' eZine

Walking into the school the atmosphere felt comfortable, but a bit chaotic. Not too different from other schools we had been in over the years. The students seemed friendly, the administrators and teachers had a long list of IT tasks to accomplish, but this also was no different than any other organization. We had only the slightest hint that we were crossing into a battle zone.

The school is an inner-city charter school in California. Although the building is not new, it has been recently renovated, so that the facilities were good. It is not a high income area, but most of the students are here to learn, and the discipline problems are not far from the norm. The teachers were all enthusiastic users of technology.

The school has already purchased, or has had donated, more than 50 computers, has a reasonably highspeed internet connection and a variety of software. The teachers and staff have the usual mix of people ranging from technology savvy (very few) to those who are mostly lost, but most are able to work their way around the computer and the network. As usual, many of the students were far more computer literate than their teachers.

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Data, Data Everywhere, How Do You Manage It?

By Gerald A. Wilson, Ph.D.
January, 2009

Schools have always had a large number of records about their students, but until the 21’st century, these were mostly paper, not electronic records. The motivations for moving from paper to electronic records vary, but usually include saving file-cabinet space, making them easier to search and maintain, and reducing the cost of record keeping. In addition to the direct educational uses of this data (report cards, transcripts, health records), in recent years there has been a substantial growth in the number of state and federal reporting requirements also using these records. Schools have had to develop or purchase special Student Information Systems (SIS) and Data Information Systems (DIS) to have the means to comply with all the reporting requirements without further growth of the administrative staff. While the direct costs of purchasing and maintaining these systems impact the budget, it is the hidden costs that are the greatest burden.

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