What's Your Achilles Heel?

School CIO asked readers to anonymously share their toughest pain points. The following are selected responses.Not Making the Most of Technology In school computers are being used too much for just “getting by.†We should be focusing more on keyboarding, drawing, Web creation programs, and using the Net to solve problems. Data-Driven Misconceptions I spent the last three years of my career assisting educators as they struggle to understand and implement a vision of data-driven decision making (D3M). While trade journal descriptions of D3M paint a glorious picture of “fingertip data,†misconceptions abound regarding how to successfully approach such an important and intrinsically complex initiative. The complexity arises not from information technology, but from the expectation that D3M offers an off-the-shelf solution to low student achievement… Recently I was on the verge of helping a district begin their D3M trek when we came to an abrupt halt. The stop sign was erected by the district’s instructional and administrative leaders, not the IT organization. IT was fully prepared to explain the challenges associated with locating data in their student information system, implementing data analysis processes, and rolling out a user-friendly query interface. However, IT was not able to allay fears that the “right†data had been identified and was available. Further, only a handful of educators understood the larger context of D3M (a vehicle for implementing systemic improvement through changes to key practices such as professional development, curriculum alignment, lesson differentiation, instructional strategy adoption, technology infusion, performance trend analysis, and change management). The hurdle facing educators who want to accelerate change in beneficial directions is their own need to acquire knowledge of performance management principles before they are asked to define their requirements for data and technology-based decision support tools. As usual, professional development should come first before the first brick of a data warehouse is laid. Software Installation In the midst of maintaining the floors in our lab, we’re also trying to reinstall software on our new Dell PCs. Unfortunately, we won’t have much time to review the new software prior to school starting. On the other hand, our students will appreciate the flat screens. They look great, make the lab appear better, and hopefully use less energy.