Let's take a break from looking around — a break, mind you: we haven't finished yet — and do a spot of introspection and daydreaming. I've always thought it a good idea to draw up a wish list of stuff you'd like to see in the school as far as educational technology hardware and software is concerned.
I think this is an important thing to do for two reasons. One is that I think every good leader has dreams. Maybe your particular vision seems impossible right now, but it's important to dream about it nonetheless. Thinking of what could be has, I think, a subtle aspirational effect, and that rubs off onto others. Another is quite simply that if you suddenly find yourself with a windfall to spend on educational technology, or are asked to bid for some funding with very short notice, it's as well to have a sort of shopping list up your sleeve.
And I should say here that, whilst I like to think of myself as both a practical and pragmatic person, there is absolutely nothing wrong with daydreaming. Indeed, I think it is necessary. Where it all goes wrong is where someone has a dream, and does nothing whatsoever to bring it to reality. Dreaming is necessary, as I said; it is not sufficient.
Without a vision, how could you even start to draw up a wish list? A wish list should not be a ragbag of random items thrown together, but should reflect what you'd like learning and teaching with technology in your school to look like. That's the starting point: not "How many pocket camcorders would I like?", but "How can we help youngsters express themselves without having to speak it or write it?".
I suggest the following 'rules' for drawing up a wish list:
- Base it on a vision for learning and teaching, as already mentioned.
- Discuss it with colleagues and students. Perhaps your wish list could start as the 'seed funding' for an ideas bank. Why not set up a wiki for this?
- Organise it into price bands. The reason for this is that I think it's good to have an instant answer to each of these questions, and all the ones in between: "How would you spend £100 if I gave it you now?"; "How would you spend £5m if I gave it to you now?" Sometimes you may find yourself in a situation in which you have to come up with an answer very quickly (in one case for me it was instantly) in order to acquire the money. Therefore it's a good idea to adopt the Boy Scouts' motto, Be Prepared.
- Keep reading magazines, educational news, and blogs. You need to keep abreast of what's 'out there' in order to be able to include it in a wish list. I'll cover this in more detail at a later date. But it's another reason to make sure others may contribute to your wish list, since they may know things that you don't.
Above all, keep your wish list up-to-date. Is a new dot matrix printer really the pinacle of your aspirations?