Monday, February 21, 2011

Smart phones for Principals...Is this 21st Century Learning?

I was surprised to read a story in the Oak Bay news reporting that the Greater Victoria school district last year spent over $100,000 on cell phone/data plans and an additional amount (2-3 salaries) purchasing smart phones and blackberries.

Read here:

There were several public consultation meetings about how to find over $1 million in shortfall from the budget and never once was this purchase disclosed in those public sessions. In fact, CUPE workers received lay off notices and one teaching job was eliminated. In addition, there was a 10% cut in school supplies budgets. The report to the public is still available to read here: March Budget Presentation to Public

It's not clear to me why Principals need smart phones. As far as I am aware, they already have cell phones and/or walkie talkies so that they are accessible any time during the school day. They have computers on their desks. Is it really so important that they web browse or read email on the go in the hallway? Is this what the District means by 21st Century learning?


  1. There are a few benefits of smart phones which go beyond being able to access the Internet from outside the principal's office. I don't know if these reasons make the Smart phones worth the price tag, but they are worth mentioning.

    A good principal does not spend his or her day in the office. They should be around the building evaluating teachers, building relationships with staff, faculty, and students, and checking out what is going on in the school. They need to be reachable anywhere they are while they are work in case a crisis, and that contact could come from an email, a text message, or a regular phone call. Smart phones are much more productive for this type of communication is than a regular phone. I can remember trying to send an email on a regular phone, it is a nightmare.

    I use my Smart phone as a web browser, a map, my contact list, a to do list, a notebook, for podcasting, taking pictures, recording videos, connecting with my PLN, a calendar, and numerous other things. I don't think of it as a smart phone actually. It's one of the most useful devices I own, as it is a pocket sized computer.

    Now whether principals can get by without this functionality and sticking with a pager, I don't know. $100,000 seems like a lot of money, especially when faced with a budget short-fall.

  2. Would this be one reason administrators are pushing so hard to get Wi-Fi in schools?