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Education Technology

Technology Grants for Supporting Education? 46

citking asks: "I work as one of 12 micro computer technicians for the Madison School District, the second-largest in the state of Wisconsin, and we have a problem: Our support equipment, namely laptops and diagnostic hardware, is falling dangerously behind the times even as our schools receive top of the line technology sponsored mostly by private grants and donations. Our technology budget is small and is being cut back every year, so having the district buy us new laptops is out of the question. I wouldn't mind applying for a grant to cover most, if not all, of the cost of new equipment, but any grants I see directed at education are all directed toward teachers' projects. Are there any grant programs available for support positions in the public sector? If not, how do other support people in the public sector struggle to keep up with low budgets and outdated equipment?"
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Technology Grants for Supporting Education?

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  • by ElectricRook ( 264648 ) on Monday December 20, 2004 @07:27PM (#11141850)
    It's much easier to cry "Our students are suffering because the computers are out of date", than it is to cry "Our teachers are under paid".

    I for one think computers are over-rated as teachers. I also think computers are over-rated as teaching tools. Computers are fantastic as internet search tools, and great for teaching computer programming. Computers are also great for teaching typing, and other computer skills. Teaching someone to be a mouse driver is about as beneficial as teaching them to be a truck driver. Meaning that if your computer is not working for you, you are working for the computer.

    Flame away.

    • It's much easier to cry "Our students are suffering because the computers are out of date", than it is to cry "Our teachers are under paid".

      Last time I checked, the average teacher's pay was about the same as the average pay for a college graduate (which would be a middle-class income).

      I think its easier to cry "Our teachers are under paid" than it is to cry "Blame the parents" and "blame the students".

      • A Footnote (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dasunt ( 249686 )

        You question whether computers are effective learning tools. Perhaps you should also question if they are cost effective.

        A grade school, junior high, or senior high math textbook can be valid for decades. Grammar books can also be valid for decades. Chemistry and Physics books also tend to be good for many, many years. Even with scientific advances and new research, political science, geography, and biology books tend to be good for a decade and a half.

        A cheap computer costs as much as several te

      • Having just married a high school teacher, I was curious about this- so I started doing a little research in my town (Austin, TX)- the median teacher salary I could find for towns in Texas with a population over 10,000 (the best granularity I could find with a quick search) was about $41K (which is higher than my wife, who has about 10 years experience teaching), and the median salary in Austin is $51K.

        Basically, teachers are underpaid. People talk about "summers off" ... kind of, but not really- they have
    • Computers aren't really being used heavily as 'teachers', or even 'teaching tools' directly involving students. I work for a mid/large district (~50K kids), and I'd say 90% of our computer usage is either electronic testing of classroom taught material (for things like state standardized tests, or district analytical tests), communication between teachers/staff, or administrative/statistical analysis work - grade averaging, scheduling, inventory, hr/finance, etc.
      We have a few special-needs kids who have 'c
      • They are not being used as teachers in all places, but some schools ARE using the idea. I'm a year and a half into college now, but when I left my high school they were doing trial runs of computer teaching, mainly in economics and history. The level of econ I was taking, for instance, had three types of classes *A traditionally taught class only using computers as word processes and research tools. *A class that was mostly classroom teaching, with one weekly lesson from a computer program *A class mostl
  • Raw turnips? (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by Otter ( 3800 )
    Students sampled raw cabbage, carrot, turnip and spinach and then made wraps with flour or spinach tortillas. Elementary students district-wide recently had a "homegrown lunch" using locally grown produce.

    I'm not a professional educator or anything but aren't you supposed to cook turnips? Maybe they mean turnip greens, although I'd strongly advise cooking those too. (And spinach, for that matter.) Seems like this activity is just going to scare kids away from vegetables.

    • No, raw turnips are actually very good, sort of like mild radishes. Cut them in sticks like carrot sticks and serve them chilled.

      Actually, once I'd had raw turnips, I couldn't figure why people bother to cook them.
  • by BigT ( 70780 ) on Monday December 20, 2004 @07:59PM (#11142119)
    I once worked IT at a university. The usual tactic there was to talk to the grant writers and ensure that part of technology grants was earmarked to SUPPORT the technology. If they are ordering 10 computers for a grant project, then they need to include one more to support those ten. Also make sure the grant includes infrastucture (network hardware, etc.) for that project so that the new router needed to put those computers on the net does not come out of your budget.
    • I second this. I am the technology coordinator for a medium-sized district, and for any grants that are open-ended enough to allow it, I make sure 5-10% is skimmed off for support costs. Only way to do it.
      • Got to love all of the talk about skimming, kickbacks, "free" hardware, etc. in this topic. You would think working with the government would be simple and straight forward... Provide good service at a fair value - wait, the good guy here always finishes last to the guy with the $600 golden hammer
        • you mean the one who just accepts having no budget to support the technology and provides a poor service?
        • Well, since the government provides unsufficient funding to deliver an educational program that meets the standards that the government itself sets forth, you have to "get creative" with other funding sources. The alternative of providing a sub-par education is not acceptible to me.

          You would think working with the government would be simple and straight forward...

          What planet are you from? I don't know of a single government on earth that could be classified as being simple and straightforward to work wi
  • by sysadmn ( 29788 ) < minus pi> on Monday December 20, 2004 @08:40PM (#11142471) Homepage
    So write the grant proposal to play up the educational aspects. Need diagnostic tools? Stress that they'll be used to keep student and teacher systems running, and also to teach students state of the art tools for keeping systems running. Same with infrastructure items - ask for two routers, and stress that one will be used to give students real-world, hands-on experience.
  • Of course you could always write to a computer corporation. Cisco runs the "Cisco Acad" at my college. The networking courses are no longer taught with an in house curriculum. In exchange wwe seem to get a pretty decent price cut on the cost of the dozens of routers and switches we have from Cisco. Although it's one more way for your school to be branded. Good luck.
  • Also check out the K12 Linux Terminal Server Project []. It's a great way get more good out of your current equipment.
  • Fire one technician. Allocate the money formerly used for his salary to buy new diagnostic tools.
  • Thanks... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by citking ( 551907 ) <> on Tuesday December 21, 2004 @02:16AM (#11144795) Homepage
    ...for the suggestions. I'll certainly try to get the grants to incorporate the required materials to support the gifts they give us. I think most people will be understanding when they look at what we need and why we need it. Thanks again for the suggestions, and by all means, keep 'em coming if you get any more ideas.
  • ...from a STUDENT POV (and not in any specific order).

    1. Teachers (really) are underpaid for what must be put up with.
    2. Those outside of education do not have a grasp for what happens in the educational system.
    3. Students that don't care to be educated hinder the education process and cannot be removed from the environment.
    4. Technology courses are being cut, not limited to but including, automotive technologies, shop technologies, computer technologies.
    5. Very poor system for student feedback to tho
  • You say most of the grant money goes to teachers' projects. Can you combine what you do into a course offered to students with advanced technical computer skills - sort of an Honors Class in Support? Request the new equipment you need as part of a grant to support the new course.

    Yeah, I know. It's clear I don't have any experience in the administration requirements of a public school district, and there are probably any number of hurdles to doing this (a teaching certificate might be one of them). But
  • Leave the IT industry. Quit and become a Chef - everyone needs to eat.
    • What are you crazy, I quit being a Chef and got into IT, hours were long after taxes etc, pay sucked, I'd rather turn off 50 workstations on my way out, than clean the kitchen at the end ofthe day.... IT's a crazy world....
  • Look outside the box (Score:2, Informative)

    by chivo243 ( 808298 )
    For what it is worth, look outside the "school district" for donations. I work in an IT department in a school with a hefty yearly budget, and a clearly defined replacement schedule for ALL equipment. We have donated all of our old and slow computers( by our standards) to other schools less fortunate. Look to the universities and colleges in the area for donations. Another route would be corperate sponsorship. Propose a pilot program, they supply the gear, you make it work, they show it off, it is a win
  • As the parent of a former Madison schools student, I would have to say I'm glad the technology budgets are being cut. Way too much money has been spent on ubiquitous computing without any benefit to the majority of the students.
    My son used to tell me that in the classes that used computers the most, at least 50% of his and his classmates time was spent downloading music, playing games or chatting. In the 'regular' classes (the old-fashioned kind that used books and real teaching) he and his classmates spen

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