There has been talk of a backlash with education technology. The New York Times published an article recently implying that technology in the classroom does not work, and then another on how some well-known Silicon Valley gurus prefer having their children learn by performing hands-on tasks rather than using high-tech tools in the classroom. At the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents (ALAS) conference in San Francisco in October, I heard administrators talk about the frustration they have with piecing together learning technology solutions and not getting them to sync up due to limited technology budgets. One administrator felt that by the time you get one version of a product, the next is out; moreover, she said that companies should guarantee that learning technology works. But most of us agree that technology is an essential tool in the transformation of education, and that the effectiveness of the technology in the end comes from the work of educators and students.
Hundreds of products were nominated by school personnel this year to be winners of DA's annual Readers’ Choice Top 100 Products. Many of the winning products, which are all featured in this special issue, include state-of-the art learning technologies. For example, there’s an online library of books for students who have physical or learning disabilities that can be used with adaptive technologies; visual math software that engages students’ spatial-temporal reasoning capabilities; a learning network that enables teachers to customize the online classroom experience to allow for student collaboration. Assistant Editor Courtney Williams and our recently promoted former products editor, Kurt Eisele-Dyrli, worked hard to turn 100 product nominations into a resource that you and your team can use to make the best purchasing decisions.
In this issue’s District CIO section, we profile several strategies for updating a network on a budget. Districts across the country have sought to build a strong infrastructure that keeps up with the demands for new technology and the storage needs that come along with it. But this situation raises some big questions: Do you fix a network that isn’t broken because it’s out of date? At what point does not having the newest features limit your ability to run a 21st-century school district?
In addition to the solutions provided within this issue, we hope you will find that our new Web site—with its enhanced indexing capabilities —makes it easier for you to access our daily updates or find something you read at a previous time that you want to read again.
All good things for the new year!
Judy Faust Hartnett
Editor in Chief