Driving to Sweet Grass/Gettin some puters

I was able to finagle 25 dell computers from the United States Border Patrol over the past month or so and last Friday, I drove up to Sweet Grass, about a two hour drive, to pick up the computers. My journey began with the pick up of a Uhaul van to go and pick the computers up with. When I told the man at the counter, Goody, what I was using the uhaul for and that I was a teacher, he gruffly shared with me his opinion of computers and said that kids should just be given a paper and pencil with the instructions to “Git ‘er done”, after all, it was good enough for him. Computers cause way more problems than they are worth he went on to explain. It is amazing to me how similar his response was to certain people who I work with. The first responses I received when I shared with people that I was able to get some computers donated was “there is no place to put them”. I was hoping the response would be more positive, like maybe, Wow! think of all the things we could do with them. The computers I picked up are at least as good and in many cases better than the computers I currently have in my classroom, however, I will not be allowed to swap out windows licenses on to “Donated Machines”. The term “Donated Machines” seems a dirty word to the people involved with the implementation of technology at our school. One person in particular almost seems angry with me that I was able to get some computers donated to our school. Could someone in my PLN explain to me why that might be the case? Also, the only operating system that will be allowed on our district’s network is Microsoft Windows. The learning curve will be steep on this one, I think, as I begin to learn about Linux and open source operating systems. However, with my PLN, steep learning curves are much easier to ride up (bicycle racing metaphor). I imagine it is difficult to configure a network to take more than one different kind of operating system, but I don’t really know, because networking is not something I have a great deal of experience with. But it would seem to me that it must be possible, because I know other teachers are doing it in other places with poorer technological resources.

So, I will focus not on why I can’t use these computers in my school or how there will be obstacles in the way as I attempt to find a use for them, but on how much learning will occur for me and hopefully some of the students I see as I attempt finding a place in my school for these computers. Actually getting them on our school grounds should have been the biggest challenge I faced with regards to finding a purpose for the computers, but I have a feeling there may be bigger ones. Wouldn’t it be a wonderful world if it were the employees from the U. S. Border Patrol who had to drive to Great Falls to pick up our school district’s old computers, not the other way around.

On a personal note, I took our dog, Buster with me on the trip to Sweet Grass. He is a great dog, just growing out of puppihood. He was great company along the way, and he really made me laugh when I looked down at him after paying too much attention to the road to see that he had chewed his old leash to shreds…See Picture…

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8 Responses to “Driving to Sweet Grass/Gettin some puters”

  1. This is gonna be such a good read … are they Dell Optiplex? They are a great machine. They are simple and durable, and you’ve got enough to keep as spare donors. How to get them on a network and around Windows … well that’s a project right there for the students. If licences are the issue then Gnu will be a rock is this, I’d suggest to go find yourself a local Linux geek, set up one machine, then image it onto the others.

    Go get a cheap switch and run some 100BaseT Ethernet cables.

    Its good people are not too keen on it … and they are free … you can experiment and mess about with them, so can the kids … I love how your posts include so much daily life stuff Jeff.

    We need more people who are not put off by any set back.

  2. I am really surprised at that response!! We have a system where most replaced government desktops are donated to schools. They are checked over by our techs, and then placed in schools, with all appropriate licences. This is a long established procedure for moving machines into schools, and works very well.

    Some schools also check and / or rebuild donated machines so they are of an acceptable standard to go on the network, and students develop the needed skills and do the work. A win/win/win situation.

  3. Jeff, I say good on you. What amazing initiative you are showing. You are demonstrating the kind of behaviour we encourage in our students. You are taking risks and demonstrating that learning takes place all the time, regardless of your age and position in life. I would be daunted by this challenge, but you are taking it in your stride and recognise that help is out there in your Personal Learning Network. I see our good friend Dean has already pitched in and I’ve no doubt he’ll be a great help guiding you through this. He does the same for me, good man that he is. I wish you all the best Jeff. It would be lovely to be working with you – your passion is evident. I do hope your staff appreciate your efforts.

  4. Congratulations! That is an awesome opportunity to bring more technology to your students. That is what it’s all about: the students and their 21st Century education. BTW, I love your dog.

    When I read the response to your wonderful find, I had to smile. I have been in your position many times over the years. What I have discovered is that it is often about power others view of competence.

    On the power motif, here is my observational take-away message: If the naysayers had been the one to bring this great deal to your school, they would be doing the dance of joy…yes, that includes the tech people. I have had the experience of becoming a pariah for helping write a grant that brought in over half a million dollars for technology resources and training, so I am not surprised at all.

    How can you overcome these negatives? Sometimes you can’t. In my experience, I always more effective in gathering acceptance when I worked to get a consensus group to work with me, to share my excitement. Your consensus group will talk to the naysayers, or MORE IMPORTANTLY, to the PTBe. If you have members of PTBe IN your consensus group, no one will grumble too long.

    I am making an assumption, that you probably did many of these things already, but I will list anyway, just for reference:
    A. TELL everyone, especially parents, board members, and community leaders before you begin a project. Get informal consensus among this group.
    B. Ask for help with solving the problems mentioned by naysayers. Guiding the discussion towards your wants and need will help you get GNU, etc.
    C. Get your principal, superintendent and money people on your side.
    D. Advertise your booty in the newspaper, union newsletter, and other ways to get info to other teachers and your local community.

    The whole point is that you will be happier and healthier, over time in teaching, if you immunize yourself from these negative people and issues. Try to think about how coaches do PR, that will help.

    Back at the ranch, Jeff: This is a great opportunity and I will be excited to hear more about your ongoing saga to bring these Dells into the school. I like the GNU idea.

    T

  5. Hey there neighbour!

    Whenever you create a situation where people will have to change or think differently, you’re going to get resistance.

    Before you went and got those computers, they had an excuse (not enough computers). Now that you’ve taken that excuse away — they have to come up with other barriers to throw in your way so they don’t have to learn/stretch/work/grow.

    Some teachers teach for 20 to 40 years — others teach 1 year 20 to 40 times. Not hard to spot who is who, eh?

    Cheers!

    KerryJ
    aka Pandora

  6. SAV School Says:

    IT’s awesome endeavor Mt. Jeff. You in into the modern technology. I’m struggling for collecting school supplies. I hpe one day your and our children can be online and share abt their life and technology.

  7. […] and they have also been chewed to pieces by my dog Buster. Buster loves to chew things. In fact, on a trip we took recently to pick up some computers, he ate his leash. Hopefully, Buster won’t get a hold of my latest slippers my two sons […]

  8. Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

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