When I was a librarian, I often had to deal with donated books.  Usually,
I dealt with them by hiding them in a closet.  Most people didn't
understand that 1) those books might not be suitable to the collection and
2) even if they were, there was a cost to accessioning them.  A book
needed to be catalogued, covered and, in those days, have a circulation
card made and a pocket mounted inside the back cover.  And I was pretty
damn busy as it was, thank you very much.  Obviously, if the book had real
value it would be worth the effort, but people often say to librarians,
regarding books of questionable merit, "Why don't you just put them out
there on the shelf?  You never know, someone someday might be interested
in one of them."   Sorry, no can do.

There is also a cost to using a "free" piece of computer equipment in a
school; it costs money to support it. Maybe we should calculate what that
cost might be and state that any piece of equipment a teacher wants to
bring in from outside for use in the school - at least one they expect to
get any support on - must be accompanied by a fee to pay for that support.
When a teacher shows up in need of help with such a piece of equipment,
ask if they have the receipt for their payment of that fee.  If not, tell
them to take the equipment elsewhere or throw it on the pile and "we'll
see if we can get to it this summer some time. No promises."

But, really, we probably don't want to deal with it even with a fee paid.
We all have technology plans and most of us have more specific plans about
the makes and models of the equipment we will purchase.  Factoring into
those choices are suitability, durability and basic support
considerations.  Oddball equipment thrown into the mix is disruptive,
confusing, and time-consuming.  If a teacher makes such equipment "mission
critical", as far as I'm concerned, their mission may well end up in
critical condition. It may sound mean spirited, but we need to protect our

Tell 'em, "Sorry."

-Vince "Always Helpful" Rossano

> -----Original Message-----
> From: School Information Technology Discussion [mailto:SCHOOL-
> [log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Craig Lyndes
> Sent: Tuesday, June 01, 2010 8:05 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Looking a gift horse in the mouth
> Folks,
> I'm wondering what schools are doing about supporting technology that
> educators are receiving when they take college classes, professional
> development and go to conferences?  It is always nice to get "free"
> equipment, but what happens when the camera stops working, the
> projector
> gets a short in the custom cable, the ipod battery fails or the laptop
> boots to a blue screen of death?  Are these "free" devices dropped off
> with the tech support team, with an admonition to get them repaired
> before the next class so the lesson (which is planned around the
> device)
> can proceed?
> One of the resources that is limiting what we can do with technology at
> St Albans City School is technical support.  If the teachers can't
> count
> on their technology working they can't integrate it into their work
> with
> the kids.  Since I started there 2+ years ago we have gone from 300
> computers to 500 computers and the amount of student hours using
> technology has increased 10 fold (thanks to Lucie's efforts).  With
> this
> has come an increase in the amount of tech support that people have
> needed.  However, there has been no increase in tech personnel.  So we
> work smarter.  This includes no "one offs" allowed.  These one of a
> kind
> devices are more difficult because we don't understand them, we don't
> have parts and in the case of computers we don't have images, which are
> integral to our supporting a large number of machines configured so the
> end user has the greatest degree of flexibility and autonomy.
> What do you do when someone comes back from a conference or a class
> with
> a laptop that you've never seen before, with an operating system you
> know won't work with your network?  How do you support it when it gets
> an incurable virus and the person who must have it to teach their next
> lesson looks at you blankly when you ask for the recovery CD?  How do
> you schedule in figuring out the document camera that can't resolve
> anything if the room lights are on?  What about the camera that you've
> never seen before that suddenly stops working?
> I know Rita and I would be willing to work on these things in our spare
> time.  The problem is there is precious little spare time.  Can we tell
> people that this free equipment can not be repaired as quickly as the
> equipment we specify?  In effect is it OK to say free equipment can not
> be mission critical?  Can we ask the organizations that give out this
> equipment to take some responsibility for it once it has left the
> conference?  Maybe then they would see the advantage to a 3 year
> warranty!
> Am I just being ungrateful?
> Craig Lyndes
> Franklin Central SU