the ‘Christmas Effect’ and ed tech

You’ve seen it before…  the excitement, the smiles, the shear ‘giddiness’ on a teachers face when they get to rip open a box containing a new piece of technology.

Huh?  Hold on!  I understand they are excited about new technology… but what’s this about ripping it open out of the box?

Correct…we are talking about teachers getting to open new technology as if they were opening a Christmas present.   No one else has touched it…  tech support hasn’t “locked it down”,   it’s brand spankin’ new and it only has the teachers finger prints on it .

Hence the term “Christmas effect”.  It generates a genuine excitement and feeling of true ownership when staff open technology out of the box.

Of course, this doesn’t apply to all pieces of technology. No one wants to receive multiple boxes with tons of wires, along with a note “Please go ahead and set up your desktops yourself !”  Instead, we’re seeing that certain mobile technologies are well suited for this type of deployment… and that the benefits well outweigh the risks.

Here are some examples…

Teacher Laptops:  With the ability to store a standardized “image” or set of software on a usb flash drive, it’s now easier than ever  for staff to be able to take a machine out of box and set it up to meet their specific needs.  When they find a new tool that they’d like to experiment with, they can do so on their own, as they are local administrators of their teacher laptops. And if you playing around ‘hoses up’ the system, no problem, grab the flash drive and reimage to start anew.

iPads:  With the new changes in iOS 5, it’s easier than ever for staff to setup and manage classroom iPads.  With a large array of apps available, our belief is that teachers need to be able to experiment and test apps out to see what fits their needs. In our current role, the iPads are managed at the classroom level.  For us, the iPad is a device to help drive differentiation and small group work as opposed to whole class activities.  With that goal in mind, we’ve enabled the teachers to test the apps that best help them achieve this goal. [Granted, we haven’t given out enough iPads to make everyone happy yet… but we’re working on it.]

Digital/video cameras:  We’re getting ready to launch another project that will provide additional digital cameras to our schools/classrooms this winter, and we’re looking again to distribute the equipment during training unboxed.  During a pilot test in December, we continued to find that staff seem to gain a true sense of ownership and responsibility for usage when they get to open the equipment.

Is this all hog wash…  perhaps we just don’t have enough tech support?
I’ll admit that some folks see this as an effort to push teachers into tech support roles…and that is certainly not the intent.  During our initial tests with this model, we’ve heard the following feedback from staff.

1. I feel like it’s mine, like I have to take care of it, I have to use it.

2. It feels like I’m trusted… because I get to set it up, and I decide what gets installed.

We should all desire to spark the feelings of ownership and trust, they are key components for encouraging innovation.  So what do you think?  Am I all washed up?  How about our staff who have experienced this – is there more ownership, more trust, and better usage  because of something as simple as getting to take it out of the box and getting a chance to truly manage the device?

One thought on “the ‘Christmas Effect’ and ed tech

  1. Pingback: Don’t unbox the goodies… « West Des Moines Community Schools Technology

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