Schools Are At Risk

Actually, the title for this should be “every organization is at risk.”

If you haven’t already heard about some of the major trends in technology I’m sure you will. A few of the most important trends are what is euphemistically called: SMAC (social, mobile, analytics, and cloud). I like to add the Internet of Things (IoT) to this list as I believe it is an extremely significant trend that in and of itself will cause some serious disruptions to the way we live, learn, and work.

So here’s the short story.

accelerating rate of change

The business environment we are in has already eclipsed the ability of most organizations  to respond to the rate of change (which we used to characterize as accelerating or exponential change). That situation is now exacerbated by the trends being labeled: social, mobile, analytics, cloud, and the internet of things.

SMAC - social, mobile, analytics and cloud

The environment we now find ourselves in can be characterized as

Always On, Real Time, Anywhere

No organization that I am aware of is designed to operate in an always on, real time, anywhere world. That puts them at risk. Why? Because the external environment is changing at a rate that far surpasses the ability for organizations to keep up. And, the ‘next thing’ will be here before you know it.

No matter what changes an organization begins to implement now, by the time those changes are in place the world will have changed again and the organization will be behind. Not only will they be behind but their competition can and will come from just about anywhere. The barriers to entry (the cost and time it takes to create an enterprise with the capabilities of a mature organization) has shrunk significantly.

So what is the solution?

New business models, new organizational structures, new operating models, and new ways of working are required.

Organizations have to be ‘re-conceived’ in a manner that enables them to operate in this new environment.

This type of environment puts schools at risk for a number of reasons. The most obvious one is related to the rate of change. When the external environment changes faster than the internal environment there will be significant pressures put on schools. As also mentioned, the barriers to entry have dropped significantly. If I can ‘put up a school’ in a matter of days or weeks at a cost lower than existing schools what might happen?

The other risks relate to organizational models, operating models, and ways of learning. All of those things need to change if an organization/school wants to be relevant in this current environment. The organizational model (the whole concept of schools actually) was developed at a time when change was extremely slow and the outcomes for schools and schooling were somewhat simple (reading, writing and arithmetic). The operating model for schools hasn’t changed much in more than 100 years. And, the way of learning – pedagogy – hasn’t changed much either.

All of those things put schools at risk. We’ll add one more. I’ve mentioned previously about the trend called BYOD – bring your own device (one of the impacts of the mobile trend). In many parts of the country families now have better technologies and better access to information than most schools. That adds additional tension to an already pressure filled situation. Where families do not have these technologies (poorer communities) the already stressed local school becomes further behind the rest of their neighbors.

What do you think? Are schools at risk?

iPad Invading the Classroom

20121116-190303The pace of change is accelerating everywhere and one of the primary drivers of that change is what I call the “digitization of everything.”

Every industry is being impacted – and most in some pretty significant and often severe ways. Schools aren’t keeping pace with this level of change – nor are they preparing young people for a world that is radically different from today (which is radically different from just a few short years ago).

Add to that the trends in mobility and you’ve got a perfect storm.

Here are a few of the key trends showing how these forces are impacting schools


  • IT spending is up: The Center for Digital Education estimated education spending on IT reached $19.7 billion in 2010-11 and it’s expected to rise again in 2011-12. Despite school budget cuts, officials are spending more money on tech than ever before. Traditional educational publishers are devoting more attention and budget to the digital world and tech giants like Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon are trying to push their devices into schools.
  • Hardware spending is up: According to an Education Technology Market Watch report, there’s a clear move to channel funding into technology and the bulk of that spending (55 to 60 percent) in middle schools (K12) is on hardware.
  • Digital textbooks taking off: Project Tomorrow reports that 27 percent of middle school and 35 percent of high school students use digital textbooks. On top of that, the Pearson Foundation reports that 58 percent of college students prefer a digital format for textbooks. Tablets and e-readers are the ideal windows for that content.
  • iPad tests: In McAllen, Texas, public school officials have opted for iPads over desktop PCs and plan to distribute 25,000 iPads over the next few years. The total spend of $20 million in the McAllen district covers the cost of the iPads and also the Wi-Fi network and training needed to support their use. The program includes iPads for third grade and upwards and iPods for pre-kindergarten up to second grade. San Diego distributed 26,000 iPads to students this year and Chicago public schools have around 20,000 iPads.
  • Worldwide adoption: Further afield in Scotland, the government recently announced plans to spend £60 million ($95 million) on tablets for universities, colleges, and schools. It’s fast becoming a worldwide trend.
  • Bring Your Own Tablet: There is also a mirroring of the BYOD trend which is sweeping through the business world. Many students will soon have their own tablets or smartphones and will choose to use them for school work. Some educational establishments are looking at voucher systems to enable students to buy their own devices. Budgets in education are always tight and so any solution that can help reduce the cost is bound to be explored. If students were expected to bring their own devices, then those with parents who can’t afford tablets could be equipped from a smaller school-owned pool of devices.
  • Promising case studies: A Learning Untethered case study offers a valuable insight into the pros and cons of tablet implementation in the classroom. The project involved equipping a 5th grade class of 27 students with 7-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab devices at a cost of around $200 per student. Though there were a number of technical issues the results were overwhelmingly positive with greater student engagement.

The iPad is playing a big role in this transformation – and with the introduction of the iPad Mini we should expect to see even greater adoption.

Here’s an article about mobile learning and how schools have to find a way to adapt to the mobile influence in our lives.

“Kids are the experts on the technology,” Soloway says. “Teachers are the experts not on the content but on the pedagogy and classroom management. The two have to live together. They have to learn together.”


…Mobile learning is not hype, Soloway and Norris assert emphatically, citing experience from their research in Singapore for the WeLearn Project. WeLearn gave Nokia Lumia 710 phones, running Windows, to a class of third graders at Nan Chiau primary school in Sengkang New Town, located in the northeastern region of the country. The goal of the project is to foster 21st century skills in these students by moving them from the traditional teacher-centric learning model to a student-centric approach that encourages collaboration and project-based learning.

Mobile That Works

And here’s an example of what’s happening in schools around the US:

A North Carolina school district will receive $30 million through a federal Race to the Top District grant. It plans to use the funding to provide tablets for its sixth- through eighth-grade students.

Guilford County Schools (GCS) is one of 16 nationwide recipients of the United States Department of Education’s Race to the Top District grants. The district won $30 million, with grants in the amount of $400 million distributed in total.

The Guilford school district will use the funding to buy tablets for its 17,000 students in grades 6-8 at 24 middle schools, provide training to students, families, teachers, and principals, and hire additional technology coordinators.

North Carolina District Wins Million To Provide Tablets to Middle School Students

And here are some recent articles showing the iPad’s influence and impact in schools:

iPad program bears fruit in Wausau schools

A pilot program that has put iPads into the hands of about 1,000 Wausau School District students has students excited about learning and employing plenty of creativity in their work, educators say.


Muncie teachers get their iPad tablets this week

Most of the district’s teachers received the iPads this week (or will very soon), according to Ermalene Faulkner, MCS chief academic officer.

“The excitement is really building,” Faulkner said. “I am really encouraged about where we are so far in this process.”

The school board in January approved the use of $2 million in the Rainy Day Fund for all of the tech upgrades.

St. Patrick School students take a virtual trip to Australia

Fifth-graders tap iPad screens and punch computer keys during a St. Patrick School computer class, where students virtually venture across the Pacific Ocean to work with sixth-graders in Sydney, Australia.

Glenn Loayza, a St. Patrick technology teacher, launched a global collaboration initiative that utilizes Skype video chatting.

iPad: Bringing the joy of reading back to those with vision problems

Summary: A new study investigating the use of electronic reading devices shows that using the iPad for reading brings the joy of that pastime back to those with vision loss due to disease.

La Center schools plug into the future

District embraces technology with use of iPads by students

A hushed air hung over Rhea Heaton’s first-period Spanish class at La Center High School, as students took an end-of-the-week quiz Friday. Light murmurs of students asking questions mingled with the gentle tapping of fingertips on illuminated screens.

In front of each student was an iPad — a tablet-style computer with a touch screen. Questions were displayed in Spanish and answered with the swipe of a finger. The days of Scantron sheets and No. 2 pencils are being phased out of the La Center School District, as it forges ahead with bolstering its technological resources.

Finally, here’s a great way to think about the use of technology and it’s impact on school. Where are you on this continuum?



BYOD – will it impact iPads in schools?

There is a trend taking place throughout the corporate world that has the potential to significantly impact schools. The trends is being called BYOD – bring your own device. What’s happening in business is employees – everyone from the manufacturing floor, to secretaries, to sales people, to the executive suite and boardroom – are bringing their personal mobile devices with them to work. They are doing that because their experience – with smart phones and tablets – is one they are liking and getting value from.

People are now expecting to have the same kind of experience they have in their personal lives in their work lives with their technology. As someone I know recently said, “consumers want to be the Yoda of their technological universe.”

By bringing their own devices to work, employees are putting pressure on companies/employers to provide them with the same kind of experience to support them in getting their work done.

This trend is creating a significant amount of impact on IT organizations. Here’s a quote from a recent article about this:

A global survey of IT directors by CIO Barometer indicates that employees are increasingly taking control of IT, as 45 percent of respondents indicate that their personal hardware and software are more useful to them than the tools and applications provided by their company.

Also, while the consumerization trend is having a positive impact on employee morale as indicated by 88 percent of survey participants believing that the use of personal devices increases employee job satisfaction, lingering concerns still exist with 72 percent of companies citing increased security incidents from the use of mobile devices.

Additional highlights include:

  • 33 percent of businesses surveyed state that their primary motivation for adopting cloud computing is the ability to offer greater access to information, with the second most important motivating factor is cost reduction.
  • 57 percent of respondents cite that their top activity for making IT more environmentally friendly is to reduce overall energy consumption, with replacing PCs and IT components coming in as the second most cited activity for going green.
  • 43 percent of respondents agreed that IT projects were the number one costliest element of last year’s budget, a dramatic rise for this factor, which came in at number 11 the previous year.
  • 75 percent of companies are outsourcing more than a quarter of their IT services as compared to 30 percent from the 2011 CIO Barometer.
  • 40 percent of companies are increasing their IT budgets despite a slow economic recovery in Europe and the United States.

This trend will no doubt have an impact on schools across the country. Employees and students will be bringing their own devices and expecting to connect to school networks and school applications and school data – and expecting to have an experience similar to what they are having in their homes (which is positive and adds value).

Schools will have to adopt – or, as has been in the past, continue to be out of step and disconnected from other aspects of life. Some schools already have cell phone policies. A few schools are embracing cell phones and taking advantage of them as part of the learning process. What happens when students start bringing their own iPads or other tablet to school? Will schools embrace them or take them away – or ban them?

What’s your experience? What’s your point of view?

Add to that trend the continual move towards workers working at home – and the tools and  technologies that support them getting better and better, and you’ve got another force that will significantly impact young people in their personal lives. This trend and it’s implications will spill over to the school environment.

If students experience streaming content to their big screen TVs and ever increasing any time any where access to information/content – they may have a harder time sitting in a seat in a traditional classroom listening to a lecture by a teacher using an overhead projector (they are still being used!).

What will all this mean to the school building? Will they survive? If so, what will they look like five years from now (what should they look like five years from now)?

From a recent article and study on the ever increasing move towards a mobile work force and a remote workforce:

Companies are catching on, building offices designed for employees to work remotely, with better systems for communicating with telecommuters (i.e. giant TV screens), fewer desks, flexible seating arrangements, and less floor space overall.

It’s a trend that’s good for workers’ psyches and the environment–more people working from home means fewer car trips, and fewer people in the office allows companies to scale down to smaller spaces that use fewer resources. And if you don’t like it, well, too bad–a new survey from Citrix Systems found that the movement is speeding up.

Citrix surveyed 1,900 “senior IT decision-makers” in 19 countries, asking about future trends in workspaces and telecommuting. Among the highlights:

  • The IT executives surveyed believe that by 2020 there will be seven desks for every 10 office workers, reflecting the growing number of telecommuters.
  • That ratio will be even lower–six desks for every 10 workers–in telecommuting-friendly countries like the U.S., the U.K., Singapore, and the Netherlands. It will be higher in cultures that place a high value on face-time, like Germany, South Korea, and Japan. But even those countries are adjusting. After the Fukushima disaster, “organizations realized that they could empower their employees to work from home. They began to learn that work can be done anywhere,” says Kim DeCarlis, VP of corporate marketing at Citrix.
  • Approximately 29% of people in 2020 will work remotely–the majority from home, project sites, and customer/partner premises. Coffee shops, airports, and hotels will also be used while in transit, much as they are today.
  • 24% of companies have adopted mobile work styles (“The trend towards fewer office-based employees … who use multiple computing devices to access corporate apps, data, and services from a range of locations outside of the traditional office,” according to Citrix). That number will balloon to 83% by mid 2014.
  • 96% of organizations implementing mobile work styles are redesigning their workplaces to be more collaborative and flexible.
  • 83% of companies plan to allow employees to bring their own digital devices to and from work instead of relying on desktops, with most or all of the costs being covered by the companies themselves.

There are generational differences, to be sure; younger employees who were weaned on laptops and wireless access are comfortable working from anywhere. “The idea that they would have to come to an office to do their job is really very foreign to them,” says DeCarlis. But, she emphasizes, there are many people who want to work remotely, and age has nothing to do with it. Maybe they live an hour from the office, have small kids at home, or simply work better in distraction-free environments. Regardless of the reasoning, telecommuting is about to get a whole lot easier.

Are iPads Showing Up In Schools?

I am often asked for references to schools in specific areas that are implementing iPads. My default resource for finding those locations and deployments is typically to do a search in Google and look for references or articles about those deployments.

Eric Lai, a writer for a technology publication called ZDNet, has created an interactive list of over 130 schools, school districts, colleges and universities deploying tablets to students for the first time this fall. Use this interactive map he created to find out more about these deployments.

View School iPad & Tablet Deployments, Fall 2012 in a larger map

The following infographic developed by creative media agency MDG Advertising, shows more than 1.5 million are currently in use by students, and schools bought some 47,000 in the first month-and-a-half after its release. There are currently more than 20,000 apps meant for education, and 80% of learning apps in the App Store target kids. Some studies even show that students who have access to iPads do better in school than kids who don’t.

All this information comes from sources including CNN, The Wall Street Journal, MarketWatch and others to produce the following infographic. Check it out below for the fuller picture.

iPads in Schools This Past Week

There is plenty of evidence the iPad is making larger and larger in-roads into schools. Just this past week there were the following articles:

Apple goes back to school with the iPad

by Jonah Loeb, Market Watch, Published September 12, 2012

Starting with business news, beyond Apple introducing the iPhone 5 and iOS6, MarketWatch has an article discussing how Apple is offering parents the option to buy a Mac or an iPad – both with bundled applications. Their take is that Apple isn’t offering enough – or rather, that the deal isn’t sweet enough (it’s good, but they say it could be better).

It’s a logical time for parents to buy their high school and college-bound kids a new machine, not to mention all the frantic retail bundling that happens in Best Buy Co. Inc.BBY  and Apple Inc. AAPL  stores. That’s why it’s interesting to see what Apple is offering to students this fall: A choice between a Mac and an iPad, the former with $100 worth of apps and the latter with $50 worth.


Glue, Scissors and an iPad
by Lauren Covello, That’s Money, Published September 13, 2012, FOXBusiness

Next up from Fox Business news  suggests that some point in the future the back to school season will have iPads on the ‘required’ supply list.

Thousands of public school districts across the country are taking serious steps toward making iPads an important tool in their curriculum – and at a rapid pace. Apple (AAPL: 691.28, +8.30, +1.22%) sold almost a million iPads to education buyers in the K-12 market in the third quarter alone, doubling sales from a year ago, according to an analyst at Needham & Co. By contrast, PC shipments in the education market reportedly fell 13.9% during the same period. While schools have been testing iPads for awhile, many of them are now looking to deepen their investment. A school district in San Diego recently spent million expanding its iPad program, taking on 26,000 iPads in what was one of the biggest iPad deployments to date. The McAllen school district in Texas, which had only distributed 5,000 devices as of last April, will provide nearly 20,000 to students this fall.

Next we have an article exploring whether tablets should replace textbooks. I’ve argued that this is inevitable – it’s just a matter of time.

Patch Talk: Should Tablet PCs Replace Print Textbooks in School?

With the rising popularity of the Apple iPad and Google Nexus 7, should heavy print texts go the way of the buffalo?

by Scott P. Moore, published in the Garden City Patch, September 12, 2012
“We are piloting tablet use at the primary, elementary, middle and high school levels and in content areas across the curriculum while developing our infrastructure and a solid method of assessing how tablet computers improve student learning,” said Dr. Rita Melikian, director of educational technology and staff development. “Our special education teachers and speech pathologists, in particular, have been utilizing the specialized applications available on the iPad.”


Then we have the following stories about schools moving to iPads.

Paul School Readies iPad Pilot Program

by Laurie Welch, published in the Magic Valley Times-News, September 13, 2012

Paul Elementary School in Idaho will be be piloting iPads this year. The article mentions the fact that Paul school is taking part in the iSchool program and references the fact that full deployment of what they call a “Smart School” on a single K-5 campus has been done in six states, including Utah and Colorado, and has been piloted in nine states. The iSchool Campus is headquartered in Park City, Utah.

About 450 K-5 students and their teachers will receive iPads as part of the project, which is funded through a grant and partnership between iSchool Campus and Apple Inc. The school was chosen to participate because it is an award-winning Idaho Leads Project school.

Students in grades 2-5 will be allowed to take the iPads home.


by Bobby Tedder, published on  on September 12, 2012.
Immaculate Heart Catholic School in an Atlanta suburb is expanding the use of iPads. Last year every 8th grader received iPad2s – and iPads have now completely replaced textbooks. This year the program expanded to include 7th graders – augmenting textbooks.
“The iPad is a technological tool available for the teacher to incorporate into the classroom,” said Immaculate Heart Assistant Principal Bob Baldonado. “Although we have a mandated curriculum to cover, the iPad provides many innovative and interactive ways to cover the curriculum while at the same time keeping the students motivated and engaged.”
Another Catholic School, St. Elizabeth Seton in Naples Florida gave teachers in every classroom in the school an iPad.

Knowledge at their fingertips: Local Catholic schools go high tech to engage students

by Anne Claire Shilton, published in the Naples News on September 15, 2012

 “We wanted to give them to the teachers at the end of last year so that they’d have all summer to get familiar with them,” said Gina Groch, the school’s assistant principal. “We gave them a list of apps and told them to have fun!”


How to Get a New Apple iPad: Be a Johnston High School Student

The Johnston Community School District is moving ahead with plans to get the iPads into the hands of every Johnston High School student.

by Todd Richissin, published in the Johnston Patch, September 13, 2012

Another Iowa High School is moving ahead with a program to provide all high school students with iPads this January.

Following a successful pilot program last year, Johnston Community School District  moved forward with a 1:1 Initiative that will place an innovative tech tool in the hands of every high school student, according to a news release from the district. This program directly aligns with the standards set forth by the Iowa Core 21st century technology skills focus.


Another high school in Montgomery School District in Pennsylvania is putting an iPad in the hands of all students this fall.

High School Students Equipped with iPads

by Jim Hamill, published on on September 11, 2012

An iPad in each students’ hands changes the library experience at Montgomery Area School District. It means kids no longer have to check out hardcover books. They can check out e-books at school or even at home.

Scholastic is giving away free eBooks to people that download their new app called Storia.

Storia Back-to-School E-Book and iPad Giveaway

Scholastic will also be giving away 25 iPads via a Facebook sweepstakes. Each iPad will come with 10 e-books of the winner’s choosing.

 and I’ll end with an article from last week that says the iPad is overtaking PC sales to schools.

Apple’s iPad overtaking PC sales in schools

The education market is a big segment of computer and tablet sales in the U.S. and new data claims, “the iPad is beginning to cannibalize a material portion of PC sales in this market.”

by Dara Kerr published at on September 4, 2012

As back to school kicks off in the U.S., new data claims that Apple’s iPad is outpacing traditional PCs in sales to students and schools for the first time ever.

Charlie Wolf, an analyst at Needham & Company, wrote to investors today that the iPad is now “cannibalizing” PCs in sales to the K-12 market, according to Apple Insider.

“Clearly, a significant portion of iPad sales represented an expansion of the market,” Wolf wrote, according to Apple Insider. “But in view of the fact that Mac sales held steady at around 520,000 units but overall PC sales declined by 265,000 units from 1.90 million to 1.64 million units, we believe the inescapable conclusion is that the iPad is beginning to cannibalize a material portion of PC sales in this market.”

What’s your school doing this fall?