From the Editor

School IT Support Challenges

School Dude has released the results of its second annual survey of school district leaders and IT administrators. As was true last year, IT funding and staffing remain the biggest problems school IT people face. And as our friend Tom Greaves and Jeanne Hayes have been predicting in their American Digital Schools work, bandwidth is becoming increasingly scarce and teachers and students find more and more ways to use video resources to support teaching and learning.

School IT professionals struggle to balance staff time between proactive and reactive responsibilities, sometimes sacrificing training and increased support for classroom technology integration. They report a proliferation of technology devices without ant y increase in staffing. They wear multiple hats and juggle too many balls.

The pressure on school IT is just going to increase as the stimulus funding dedicated to school renovation and modernization begins to reach the local level. Along with facilities managers and telecommunications specialists, IT staff and hopefully instructional technology coordinators, will be drawn into planning sessions and then charged with being sure that the plans are implemented in ways that best support teachers and students. They are an essential link in being sure that this chunk of stimulus money is well spent and will need all the support they can get.

A few housekeeping details. Take some time to browse the growing collection of articles in B2E’s Community Insights section. A number of industry leaders have taken the time to share their thoughts and insights on the market. Interestingly, the commentaries are clustering around ways to engage students and reflections on the promise and challenges of open resource models. Today’s commentator, Mark Mallardi, Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing for EmSense, invites your thoughts regarding strategies and tools for more effectively engaging students. And I’m sure that many of you have thoughts on the open resource issues raised by Phyllis Hillwig and Howard Lurie. Let us hear from you.

Gathering stories for today’s issue I was reminded of how diverse our industry is. In addition to the many companies who develop and publish print, software and Internet resources for the school market, there are organizations that focus on supporting the enterprise, new companies focused on Web 2,0 applications, professional development vendors, supply and equipment distributors, and numerous organizations that focus on one niche or another. And the number and breadth of companies offering services and products to the school market can only be expected to increase as the stimulus money begins to reach the local level.

Typically I touch lightly on many of the school market infrastructure announcements – high speed networks, telecommunications contracts, construction-related stories, as well as niches where there are only a few competitors. But it occurred to me as we prepare to track stimulus funding and its impact on both schools and vendors, that it might be a good time to spread the net as widely as possible, so readers can sort out for themselves what companies and product niches they want to track. In the interest of not making the weekly e-mails any larger than they already are, I won’t include everything I find. But all the stories will be posted on the B2E web site. If there’s an area you’re especially interested in that I’m not tracking drop me a note and I’ll see what I can find. Remember that you can search the individual categories or all headline categories by company name or key word.

In terms of more general stimulus information, you can go to http://www.schooldata.com/mdr_economicstimulus.asp where we’ll be posting links to helpful resources.