Updates from May, 2012 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Andrew T Schwab 9:18 pm on May 29, 2012 Permalink | Reply

    Chromebook as MacBook Replacement? 

    I am contemplating getting a Mac Mini for my desk when Apple updates the hardware next and a Samsung Series 5 550 Chromebook w/ the iPad for mobile travel purposes. As much as I want another MacBook, I just can’t justify it when all I did was run Chrome on the thing. Of course, $449 for a Chromebook is a bit ridiculous, but I want something ultra without the $800 price tag.

  • Andrew T Schwab 9:12 pm on May 29, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Caveat Emptor 

    Buyer Beware. That’s the first thought that popped into my head when I saw my previous position at East Side advertised on the Edjoin.org job site. The position pays, $136,404-$141,825, which coming from the central valley, seemed like a lot of money four months ago. In fact it was considerably more than the other offer I had back in December when I chose the IT Director job at East Side over a certificated edtech Coordinator position a bit further north. I was seriously leaning towards the Coordinator job but the 30% pay difference was hard to overlook. In hind sight, I should have asked why the East Side position was paying more than the surrounding districts at the time (and still is). Had I done a bit of due diligence I might have discovered the district’s reputation and got some heads up on the state things there. But I didn’t and my wife really wanted to move back to San Jose and not an hour north of San Jose; so the decision was made and four months went by but I would not have made it to Berryessa if I had not taken that particular detour. So the moral of the story is, look before you leap and if you happen not to, hope your luck holds long enough to bounce onto a nice sturdy ledge somewhere further down the mountain.

  • Andrew T Schwab 12:30 pm on May 14, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Night And Day 

    I’m at Berryessa Union School District now and it’s been like night and day. The on-boarding process was incredibly efficient. My new boss threw a bagel and pastry reception the first day to introduce me to the district staff. They got me a plant for my office, which reminds me, I need to remember to water it. My business cards were ready day one. It’s all textbook employee retention stuff but it has been very well executed. And everyone is very friendly. Not that people at the last place weren’t. It’s just that the culture is noticeably different, more sunny. Maybe that’s just the elementary way, I don’t know.

    I’ve only got a staff of four now but so far it appears that they have very good processes and procedures in place that make that number work for what they need to do. The infrastructure is solid and well documented.  Wireless is still Cisco and they’re on Exchange email but I guess you can’t have everything.

    I’ve got a lot of technology to get up to speed on. The VDI infrastructure is probably the biggest. Almost all of the computers in the district are virtual. Reminds me of my Terminal Server days back at Le Grand. So I’ll be brushing off my Lone Ranger IT tech skills and getting my hands dirty again. Something about that has a zen like appeal to me.

    Did I mention how supportive my boss is? Any reservations I had on day one about my decision to move were cleared up by day three. I’ve started building the white board map already. The challenges here are different. With the infrastructure basically stable, the discussions I’ll start having are where do they want to go from here. 1:1, mobile, social, individualized instruction, teacher technology training? I’m here to make it happen. There is already a planned pilot this summer with Khan Academy using Google Apps for Education. I setup the Apps domain on day two. Looking forward to seeing how all that goes.

    I can’t wait to start visiting sites and meeting the Principals, Teachers and Students of Berryessa. Time to get out there to where the magic happens.

  • Andrew T Schwab 6:00 pm on May 11, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Writing is Therapy… 

    …and it’s been an emotionally taxing week.

    I started a new job. While getting to know the new folks I carried around the feeling that I’d abandoned my East Side team in the field, surrounded and outnumbered.

    I tried on my new office and found sitting with my back to the door to be less than ideal. I was kindly offered the option to rearrange everything, have an ergo evaluation and even order a new chair while we were at it. I was too culture shocked to say yes right away.

    I wrote a blog post about some of the reason why I left East Side. Apparently the rumors have started already.

    I made hotel reservations for ISTE because with the job change I’ll actually be able to attend. I’m looking forward to seeing what edtech trends are happening around the world and meeting up with all the CUE and GCT folks again for some commiserating.

  • Andrew T Schwab 5:15 am on May 11, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Cloudy With A Chance Of Andrew 

    I feel like I’ve been living under a big dark cloud these past few months and now the sun is finally starting to break through. Amazing how much of an impact environment can have and how powerful a little reflection time can be. I almost feel like my old sarcastic, envelope pushing, question asking, 1:1 is the future spouting, IWB criticizing, #ubermix evangelizing self again. Wow.

    Now where did kid#1 put that iPad?

    • _NOD55 11:26 am on May 11, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Do all #ubermix evangelistas have to drive Minis?

      • Andrew Schwab 11:29 am on May 11, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        I hope not. I drive an Altima.

  • Andrew T Schwab 12:10 pm on May 10, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Read this article yesterday and this part jumped… 

    Read this article yesterday and this part jumped out at me:

    As academic and Phi Delta Kappan columnist Ben Levin pointed out in a paper in 2010: “Schools embody an industrial model of organization in a postindustrial world, and an authoritarian and hierarchical character in a world where networks and negotiations are increasingly prevalent.”

    Then I got this article emailed to me about ROWE and the headings in bold came to mind immediately:

    Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose!

    Results-Only Work Environment is a management strategy where employees are evaluated on performance, not presence. In a ROWE, people focus on results and only results…

    Individualized Instruction

    ROWE recognizes that life is an individual experience and that no two lives are identical — and leverages this to achieve better performance from each individual.

    Self Directed Learner

    In a Results-Only company or department, employees can do whatever they want whenever they want, as long as the work gets done.

    I’m thinking the structure of traditional high schools is so far from where it needs to be that it’s totally discouraging to think about how relevant school will (or won’t) be for my first kid when she gets to high school in 8 years. I don’t see the fundamentals changing much by then. We say we focus on results in education but then what are we actually defining as results?

  • Andrew T Schwab 6:53 pm on May 9, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    To East Side People Whom It May Concern 

    To East Side People Whom It May Concern;

    First off, to those of you from the East Side community, thanks for taking the time to find this blog and sorry I didn’t have more of an opportunity to get to know you.

    Since the Technology Status Report is apparently out in the open and some people may have a misconception or two about why I decided to leave, I would like to address a couple of reasons that were definitely not part of my decision to leave.

    I did not leave because there was too much to do (ie. a lot of work). I was an IT Department of One for 8 years and moved my district towards 1:1 iPads in 3. Work I can handle.

    I did not leave because the technical challenges were insurmountable. Every technical challenge can be solved. It may take time, resources and/or money but all of the challenges at East Side are solvable. Given the limited resources available, I think the department and I put together a good plan for improving the technology infrastructure for the district. That was the 18 month phase 1. Phase 2 was to be teacher and student tech. There were vision and funding challenges to be sure. But that’s pretty much universal in California right now.

    I did not leave because there was no Hope. Actually, there should be a lot of hope because there are people that get it and people that care and like I said above, the technical issues can be solved. There is also Bond money to address the most critical issues and to start to move forward with teacher and student tech. I fully believe in the department and in all the passionate educators in the district that want to move learning forward for students. There is plenty of hope. Don’t give up (you know who you are).

    So why then did I leave? In my “Leaving East Side” post I said my position became untenable. The part of that I’m going to address in this post is something very important that was pounded into me in the CETPA Certified CTO (that’s Chief Technology Officer) program. Despite that, somehow I managed to ignore it in my recent career choices. It is a very basic and straight forward concept. To be effective, a district technology leader has to be a member of cabinet.*

    If technology does not have an equal seat at the leadership table with Instruction, Business and HR, the technology leader can never fully engage the entire organization to ensure technology is treated as the critical strategic asset that it is. And that is why in many districts technology either focuses too much on the backend business/IT systems (ie. the state of the art secure, locked down enterprise infrastructure) or too much on the latest and greatest technology solutions for getting out of program improvement (insert name of latest miracle cure software program here). A more balanced approach to successfully integrating technology across a district is needed now more than ever. The simple fact is that there are times when the technology leader needs to go toe to toe with Instruction or Business or both and that’s just not possible when the tech department is reporting under one or the other of those departments.

    Technology cannot be a bolt on afterthought to education anymore. Given all the technology demands and trends facing education today, the technology leader needs to be on equal footing with the other leaders in the district and must have a seat at the table when strategic decisions are made. Otherwise a district won’t be able to position itself to meet the technology needs of today, let alone plan for those ten years into the future. Technology requires both a long and short game. Most districts aren’t playing the long game because they lack the strategic technology leadership position required to do so.

    So what does this have to do with anything? Well, for a district the size of East Side, with the management structure currently in place, in order to be truly effective as a Technology Leader and to build the vision and set the direction for integrating technology into the district, the technology leadership position must be a member of cabinet. Without that key piece, it’s all just managing costs and maintaining the status quo.

    After spending 4 years on the admin leadership team at Le Grand UHSD building a vision for technology in the classroom and focusing on meeting the needs of students and teachers for the next decade of learning, some part of untenable for me was being relegated to a business service in a department that understood neither instruction nor technology.

    * (Note:  Some districts may be getting away with this structure if they have flatter leadership or admin teams where the technology leader has input into the strategic decision making process without being on cabinet (Berryessa!) but even then, I would expect to see this changing over the next several years as technology continues to become ever more important to the day to day process of education and more critical to the relevancy of the whole school experience.)

  • Andrew T Schwab 6:27 pm on May 8, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Tech in first grade 



    • Henry Danielson 8:16 am on May 9, 2012 Permalink | Reply


      where are you going now… can you email me your personal email so we may chat. I visited you at Le Grand before you left :)
      hope this finds you well rested!
      henry d

  • Andrew T Schwab 6:12 pm on May 8, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Teachers Rule! 

    Ok, always good to start off recognizing teachers with rounds of applause from the parents. And following up with student Art exhibit announcements. Cool.

    Monday the Superintendent is coming down to discuss the Principal position for next year. Apparently they have an interim mid year replacement right now. Might have to go to that.

    Now, off to the classroom!

  • Andrew T Schwab 6:06 pm on May 8, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Open House 

    I’m attending my oldest daughter’s school open house at the moment. I think you can tell a lot from how these things are setup and run. So far it is a bit disorganized but there is good turn out. Why is it that parents seem so involved with their kids in elementary grades but then drop off interest in high school?

    I hope I’m not that parent. But then if it wasn’t for my wife, I probably would be already.

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