Monday, August 30, 2010

First Day Back For Staff - It's Not Really About The Technology

Our move to bring more technological resources into BHS has brought us quite a bit of attention in the last few days with three newspaper article:
  1. Laptop Learning in the Boston Sunday Globe
  2. Burlington High Goes Wireless, With More Changes Ahead - 
  3. The Internet Effect In Burlington - Burlington Union

While it was nice to get all of the positive accolades for our school community, today's first day back with teachers reminded me of why Burlington is such a great place to work.  BHS is the school it is because of our phenomenal staff.  This thought struck me as I looked around the cafeteria at our entire staff getting familiar with their new laptops.  

As we provided a brief overview of these new resources, I saw staff members helping their colleagues who were less tech savvy with questions and problems. What I saw was what I hope we will see next fall when we add over 1,000 student laptops to the equation.  This morning in the cafeteria, we were a true community of learners with a few guides around to help describe the outcomes we wanted, but for the most part the learners were finding their own solutions to the problems presented.

The whole experience reminded me of a great blogpost I read by Larry Cuban titled Confusing Technology Integration with Instructional Reform which talked clearly about how schools miss the boat with some technology initiatives.  We need to keep the focus on what we are going to do to improve teaching and learning and keep the focus away from simply utilizing technology.  


  1. Patrick,

    What a positive post! It really is about PEOPLE--your "phenomenal staff…improving teaching and learning."

    Have a great new school year! I'm sure the level of student engagement will be phenomenal as well.

  2. I totally agree with Richard Larkin. I've been both a student and a teacher at BHS, and BHS is by far one of the VERY, VERY BEST schools in Massachusetts. We've got a stellar faculty and staff who are totally devoted to nurturing and preparing students for the real world and a superb student body.The Burlington families are remarkably supportive. I look forward with great expectations to this coming scholastic year.

  3. Wish I was there! Great Post Patrick and I like your approach to tech integration. The technology will simply supplement the already great faculty and staff you have. It will allow for the germination of new ideas in which students can learn rich content. You have provided your faculty and staff with a wealth of resources in which they can promote constant learning in and out of the classroom.

  4. Patrick,
    As usual, you are right on here. This "shift" that we all speak of isn't necessarily about the technology. As Michael Wesch has said, "we are not in a technology revolution, we are in a cultural revolution." Much like the printing press opened the opportunity for story tellers to have their stories in print, connective technologies allow today's story tellers to share their stories digitally. What's necessary is the willingness and courage of educators to allow students to explore these technologies. It sounds as though the faculty and staff of BHS has those types of people.

  5. Hello, Patrick. One of my colleagues forwarded the link to your blog. It's great to encounter a Principal who is both technoliterate and able to appreciate the worth of his people.

    I've been ICT Manager at Mater Dei since 2004. "College" means "7-12 secondary" in our context. We've faced, and are facing, much the same issues as you are in Boston.

    We've opted for a parent-funded (buy or lease) paradigm for our student Macbook programme, and we make provision for assistance to families for whom cost is a problem. It's far from a perfect world, but we've learned from our mistakes.

    One thing's for sure - teacher involvement is fundamental to the success of a laptop programme.

    Good luck going forward!

    David Healy
    IT Manager, Mater Dei College
    107 Treetop Avenue
    Edgewater, Western Australia 6027

  6. David,

    Thanks so much for your helpful comment on our move to 1:1. Glad you found the blog and II hope that we can connect sometime in the future.