My computer crashed.

Posted by Michael Simkins on March 31, 2006

“My computer crashed.” How many times have you heard those unsettling words? Most of the time, I’m skeptical. I figure it’s user error and smugly go about my life. But yesterday, those words came out of my own mouth–accompanied by a few other choice words as well.

It was 4 PM. I was leaving the next morning for the ASCD conference in Chicago. After that my next stop was Sacramento. Everything I needed for my ASCD presentations and my workshop in Sacramento was on that laptop that had clammed up and would tell me nothing, let alone do my bidding. Coarse expletive.

Thanks to Andrea and Doug, our Santa Cruz County Office of Education tech support gurus, I’m here in Chicago sitting relatively pretty. I have a loaner laptop. I have VPN access to the county office server. I’ve been able to get hold of nearly all the files and documents I want for the next few days. I’ll get by. But what a royal pain.

And what an eye opener. I’ve been lucky. I’ve been “computer-dependent” for years and have never had a major crisis. Yeah, I’ve been inconvenienced a few times, but nothing major. We’re talking sending my laptop back for a keyboard replacement while I went on a ski vacation. Hardly counts as a serious incident (even though when I go skiing, I do tend to spend as much or more time on the computer as on the slopes).

The bottom line? I now have new appreciation for the teacher who says, “I don’t do more technology integration in my lessons because the technology I have is just not dependable.” In the current situation, my worst-case scenario was simply to be required to talk to 100 people without benefit of PowerPoint slides. What if I had 33 fifth graders in the final stretch of a 6-week long multimedia project and the server storing all their files crashed? Pandemonium.

Technology can be a magical thing, as long as your wand works.

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School Leader Development: Building 21st Century Schools

Posted by Michael Simkins on March 25, 2006

Under the fearless leadership of TICAL cadre member Kevin Silberberg, five of us had the good fortune to be immersed for two days in Microsoft’s new School Leader Development curriculum. It’s part of their Partners in Learning project and it’s a very cool overview of key topics from how the world–and students–are changing, to how people learn, to what leaders need to do to help initiate and sustain the changes necessary to retool education for the 21st century.

We had a great little group. Cadre member Sheila Grady brought fellow administrator Steve Rosentsweig. Both from Las Virgenes Unified School District, they’re part of a committee to define the district’s technology vision. Walk’bout creator George Manthey represented ACSA. Stephen Choi, Director of Technology for San Marino Unified School District, completed our coterie.

I’m sold on the curriculum and looking for opportunities to share it. — Michael

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To blog or not to blog?

Posted by Michael Simkins on March 24, 2006

At TICAL, I guess we’ve decided “To blog or not to blog?” is a question that’s been answered. Blogging is not a choice if you’re going to stay on the cutting edge of educational technology. So here is our first official, public effort. Like many first efforts, it may be a bit clumsy, but we figure it’s better to jump in and get going than procrastinate. Stumble upon this blog and don’t know what the heck TICAL is? Visit us at http://www.portical.org. — Michael

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