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Technology at Your Fingertips
Case Study

Case Study - Act 1, Scene 1
Joe Garcia is the superintendent of a small school district. Mary Taylor is the president of a small liberal arts college in the same town. Joe and Mary became good friends while working on their doctoral degrees in education administration. They continue to talk frequently because they have found that many of the problems and issues they face in their respective organizations are similar.

One October morning, Joe's secretary informed him that she was "Fed up to here!" trying to get information about students out of an antiquated system that didn't have much in it and wouldn't do much with what was there. She said that there had to be a better way to compile statistics for state reports and keep up with students as they moved in and out of the district. She was tired of having to pull out paper file folders in order to update information not handled by her computer. She mentioned that District 32 (the district next door) had purchased a new software package that contained all the information they needed about students and let them create any kind of report they needed. Furthermore, they had all of their computers networked so that more than one person could work with the information at the same time.

Joe seemed to remember that his friend Mary had done something with computer upgrades at her college the previous year and had even networked a few computers in her office. He thought, "I'll give her a call sometime this week to find out what she did, and how it's working out."

That same day, Mary received a request from a faculty senate committee to meet with them about the college's computer technology. It seemed the faculty was unhappy that their Internet access was limited by 'slow' dialup modems. They wanted faster access to the Information Superhighway, and requested the expansion of the college's network to cover the entire campus. They also wanted their library to provide access to catalogs from other colleges and online subscriptions to research journals. Mary remembered that her friend Joe had talked about connecting his high school's library to a database with hundreds of magazines in it. She decided to call Joe that week to pick his brain a little.

Two days later, Mary picked up the telephone and called Joe. "Joe," she said, "my faculty wants better electronic resources in our library. What can you tell me about your library's Internet magazine subscriptions?"

"Wow, Mary, we must have a psychic connection. I was just thinking about calling you. My teachers love what the library connections have done for our students, although they are concerned that it's pretty easy for students to copy and paste directly from the articles. We have to watch more closely for plagiarism, but in balance, the computers have done a lot to help students. Now our teachers are complaining because they can't get access directly from their classrooms. They want to network the whole school. In fact, that's why I was going to call you. My secretary has also been asking about upgrading our student information system and networking the system. I remembered something about a network in your office and thought you might be able to help me."

"We have a few local area networks like the one in my office and one for the Registrar. But we haven't tied them together. Actually, our faculty seems to have some of the same concerns as yours. There is a lot of talk about developing a network for the whole campus. Maybe we should research this together. What do you think?"

"I agree, Mary. Oh, yeah. I was also wondering if you have a student information system you are happy with. My secretary is really frustrated with ours and wants something that handles more information."

"Our registrar's office has some pretty good software, but I expect that it is aimed at our postsecondary needs and might be different from what you would want. Still, I think that the general principles are the same from one data system to another. I bet that we could help you figure out which features would be most useful to you."

"I guess I have to do something, or the staff will revolt," Joe admitted. "I've also had some parents come and ask if they can help get our district up and running with a network. They mentioned that the network could serve both administrative and instructional purposes. It seems like it might be fun!"

"Fun!!!!! Are you serious?" Mary asked incredulously. "Can you imagine putting twenty-first century technology in our nineteenth century buildings?"

"I know it sounds crazy, Mary, but I think it's time we took that next step into the information age," Joe opined.

"Well, I have to admit, it might help us with admissions if we beefed up our computer system," said Mary. "If we work together, maybe we can do this job better. But, where do we start?"

"I guess we had better do some research," replied Joe. "Let's talk again in a day or two."

Back to Chapter 1.

Case Study - Act 1, Scene 2 - Two days later
Joe called Mary two days later. "Mary, guess what? I went to an administrators association meeting yesterday, and I heard a bunch of people talking about setting up computer networks. I asked a colleague of mine about his new student management information system, and he raved about its capabilities. He said the teachers were ecstatic as well. Can you believe that? He also said that our state education agency has staff members who can help us figure out what kind of computer system we need and how to maintain the system once it's in place. I know it's going to be tough to find the money, but we've got some school board members who work for a computer company. Maybe they will help us build our case. What have you found out?"

"I've done some asking around," Mary answered, "and discovered that there are a lot of options for networking now, and that some of them don't cost a fortune. Some of our staff members have a lot of experience with computer networks. When I told them about the faculty senate's request, they said that they would be happy to help the college get networked. We've got a meeting set up next Wednesday to talk about getting started. Do you know if the state education agency has any information that can help?"

"They sure do," said Joe. "I called and requested two copies of a technology report they prepared, so I could give one to you. I should get them soon. I'll drop one by your office."

"Thanks Joe. By the way, would you like to sit in on our committee meeting? You might get some ideas from our more experienced folks. You could bring the technology reports with you."

"That's a great idea, but I'm afraid I would be out of my league if they already know much about computers," sighed Joe. "But if you'll let me know when you are meeting, I just might try to come. I can use all the help I can get."

Back to Chapter 1.

Case Study - Act 2, Scene 1 - The next Wednesday at lunch
"I'm glad you could have lunch with me, Mary. I thought it might be a good idea for us to look at this information before your meeting. I glanced through it when it arrived yesterday, and it seems like there is a lot we have to do if we are going to do this right."

Mary flipped through the report. "You're right, Joe. This report seems to recommend a lot of steps. I didn't realize there were so many ways you could use a computer network. I wonder what we are going to need to get the job going?"

"I was reading about a school in a magazine last night," Joe replied. "The network they set up gives the teachers access to student records and instructional programs right in the classroom. It also gives them extremely fast access to the Internet. They can see what books are in their library, which ones have been checked out, and even get direct access to thousands of current full text magazine articles and government documents. That seems to be just what your faculty was talking about. They even enter their class records and import standardized test data over the network. Their principals can track budget information at the building level too. It's really impressive how many things the network can do. I can see where that would be helpful to teachers and students, not to mention the administration. I certainly could have used those things when I was a teacher."

"Egad!" Mary responded. "If we had a system like that, some smart-aleck students would probably break into the computer and change their grades. I've heard that hacking is a major problem."

Joe nodded. "I guess that means that you need to be really careful about security. Come to think of it, so do we. Maybe that would be one of the requirements we would need to establish. But there must be many more. Did you say that your faculty wants to give students regular access to the network, too?"

"I guess we'll hear more about that and the other things they want at the meeting this afternoon," Mary replied. "I have a feeling we are just beginning to think about how we would want such a system to work. I wonder if this report will help us identify all the things we want our systems to do? I mean, just think of all the potential applications. There are ways to make our administrative offices run more efficiently and tools to make instructional management easier for the faculty. And I just know that the students will love all the possibilities such a system would offer them. I hope you are prepared to help me take notes at the meeting this afternoon. In fact, maybe we should tape the meeting to be safe. Shall we get the check and get rolling?"

Back to Chapter 2.

Case Study - Act 2, Scene 2 - Later that afternoon
Mary and Joe collapsed into comfortable chairs in Mary's office. "Whew," said Mary. "I never dreamed there was so much to think about. I'm glad the faculty and staff have given it some thought."

Joe agreed. "And you were smart to include some students in the discussion. It's really interesting to hear the different types of experiences the faculty, staff, and students have had with computers. They all seem to have good ideas about what they want the network to do. Am I saying that right: the 'network'?"

"I think you're getting the hang of it," replied Mary. "I think they made a wise decision to appoint a small group to develop a questionnaire for everyone to complete. I think that will be really interesting information. I didn't know we had so many experienced computer users here at the college."

"Now I'm anxious to see how many folks in my district are already using computers. I plan to send out a memo tomorrow to see who wants to volunteer to be on a technology committee. I know my secretary is interested. Do you think your committee would share their questionnaire with our group?" Mary nodded affirmatively. Joe looked at his watch and stood up. "Maybe I should head back to the office and get that memo dictated today. It sometimes takes a long time to get memos into the hands of all the staff and teachers."

"Well, Joe. It sounds like e-mail is just what you need to speed up your correspondence."

"Oh, no," he replied. "If I get into e-mail, that will mean I have to learn how to type. You can't teach an old horse like me how to type."

"Wanna bet?" asked Mary. "We'll get you computer literate yet!"

Back to Chapter 2.

Case Study - Act 3, Scene 1 - A month later
Joe called Mary one afternoon about a month later. "Mary, what do you think of the trees this year? They're gorgeous, aren't they?"

Mary replied, "I'll say. You should see the view from my office! By the way, did you receive the questionnaire put together by our technology committee?"

"We got it last week, and our computer committee went right to work. They rewrote a few questions to make the questionnaire more specific to our schools, and then sent it out. They are planning to begin interviews and focus groups at our next staff development meeting. Most everyone seems to be pretty excited, although a few people are still suspicious. I talked with those two school board members who work for a computer company, and they were pleased with our plan. They agreed to help us when we are deciding what to get. By the way, didn't you say you have some computers already on campus? That should give you a head start in setting up your network."

"I don't know," replied Mary. "I overheard a couple of faculty members calling the lab computers dinosaurs, indicating that we will need faster computers with more memory and storage just to run today's most basic programs. I wince at the thought of big computer purchases. I sure hope we can use at least some of what we have."

"I know what you mean," said Joe. "It seems like only yesterday we bought those computers for the high school computer lab. I think they were Apples. They cost us an arm and a leg, and I think we are still paying for them."

"I didn't know there were any of those still around," chuckled Mary. "I used one when I was working on my dissertation eons ago. There's no telling what else you might have if you still have Apples in your schools, but I'll bet you aren't the only district with those types of computers."

Back to Chapter 3.

Case Study - Act 3, Scene 2 - One Saturday morning before the winter holiday vacation
Mary arrived at Joe's office and saw him sitting at his conference table in jeans and a sweatshirt surrounded by stacks of paper. He looked up and said, "Hey, Mary. What on earth are you doing here?"

"I thought I would find you here. I just wanted to give you a fruitcake to enjoy during the holidays."

Joe chuckled and said, "Oh, is this the ubiquitous fruitcake I keep hearing about? I hear it makes a great paperweight. Did you make it yourself, or is it the same one that keeps getting passed around?"

Mary put her hands on her hips and made an exaggerated pout. "You louse. See if I go out of my way to bring you a gift ever again."

Joe got up, picked up his coffee cup and went over to where Mary was standing. "You know I'm just kidding. I really love fruitcake. Here, let's have a slice with a cup of coffee while I bring you up to date on the technology project. Have a seat."

Mary sat down at the conference table. "My, you have been busy! I see you have all kinds of lists: school computers, central office computers, library computers. And just look at this inventory of software available in your district!"

Joe began, "We have really learned a lot over the last couple of weeks. It seems that our situation is just like yours. We have lots of stuff, but much of it is incompatible, and most of it is as old as the hills. Here, look at this list. We even have some eight-track tape players. We don't have any mainframe computers like you do, but in some ways our computer list is even worse. I had no idea how many computers were still sitting in their boxes in closets. Unfortunately, a lot of the instructional software that we or the PTSA purchased is so old that they, quite literally, are worthless. The good thing I found out is that there are a lot of teachers who use newer computers at home. Most of them have experience using networks like the Internet. One teacher is even taking courses leading toward a computer science degree. I hope we can keep her when she finishes the program. She and her husband and a couple of parents from the PTSA were a big help in figuring out what we have."

"Joe, I am impressed. You're using computer terminology like you understand what you're talking about. We were also lucky to have some folks who knew about computers to help us with our inventory and then figure out what we need; but I wouldn't have hesitated to look for a consultant to give us help. In fact, we probably will have to get some consulting help to figure out what we need to do next. But I'm not going to worry about that now." As Joe reached for another slice of fruitcake, Mary exclaimed, "Joe, you really do like the fruitcake! I guess it's time for me to admit that I baked it."

Back to Chapter 3.

Case Study - Act 4, Scene 1 - A couple of weeks after New Year's Day
Joe called Mary late in the day. "Mary, you may be surprised to know that I finally got all those stacks of papers arranged. It took me most all of the holidays, but I felt like I had to do something fast-my technology committee is chomping at the 'bit' to get moving."

Mary laughed. "That's a great pun, Joe. Our folks are anxious to get moving as well."

"We had an excellent technology committee meeting last week to pull together the information from the needs assessment and the various inventories, and I think we have a pretty good idea what we want our new computer system to do. But we're still feeling a little insecure about what we're doing."

"I know what you mean, Joe. I looked at all the background materials we have generated and all the suggestions my folks keep giving me, and I don't know where to start."

"I'm planning to call some superintendents I know whose districts have been through this process. I am hoping we can invite some of their staff members to meet with our technology committee so they can tell us how they got their systems set up. I'm hoping that will help us figure out what we need to do to get the system we want up and working. If we get some meetings set up, do you want to join us?"

"That's a great idea, Joe. I should call some of my colleagues as well. You know, maybe we could get some help from the Big State University folks. I'll bet they have state-of-the-art systems, and I know they have lots of technical personnel."

"They probably do, but their systems may be more than we really need. Still, it's worth a try," said Joe. "I think I could also use some help budgeting for the system. I don't want us to be in the position of paying over the long run for equipment that will become obsolete in a few years and can't be upgraded easily, as happened with our Apples."

Back to Chapter 4.

Case Study - Act 4, Scene 2 - A month later
Joe called Mary, thoroughly excited after a meeting with his school board. He asked her to join him for dinner to celebrate. When Mary arrived at the café, she saw Joe sitting in a booth working with a stack of papers and a calculator. "Joe, what happened? You look as if the IRS has called you in for an audit."

Joe looked up from his calculator and said, "You're a laugh a minute, Mary. I just finished presenting our plan for the system to my school board, and they said they will support it if I can cut 10% out of the budget. Mr. Washington, my 'techie' school board member, had warned us that we should be prepared to prioritize what we would want if we couldn't get permission from the board to purchase the whole laundry list, so I'm ready for this."

"That's great!" said Mary. "Tell me what you have decided to do."

"Let's order first, then I will give you the details." After they ordered their meal, Joe continued, "Those meetings we had with the other district folks and the Big State University people convinced us that we need to get some consulting help to select our system components. We also realized that we need to hire some technical people to help us with setup and then provide ongoing support. We heard some real horror stories about schools that tried to do it on their own and ended up with expensive systems that crash all the time. We also talked with a number of vendors, and found that there are management information systems available that will fit our needs with little or no modification. The one we chose has adopted the data elements used by our state education agency and can send student transcripts electronically via electronic data interchange (EDI). That vendor is also working to make its software compatible with other programs so that we can get basic data for our school lunch program out of the student information system and use the same source to generate transportation routes. This should save us all kinds of time and headaches by cutting down on errors from rekeying the same information more than once. Those were the deciding factors for us on that software. We've also discovered that the computer and network system configuration we have chosen can handle all of our administrative needs, as well as provide easy access to instructional applications for teachers in their classrooms. In addition, we've decided to require that our LANs support both PC and Macintosh computers, a factor that convinced our school board that we are looking out for our teachers' and students' interests. I could go on and on, but I want to hear what happened at your regents meeting last week."

Mary smiled. "I am pleased to say that our regents were supportive of our plans for implementation. We agreed that the library needs to be computerized and that our priority should be on getting faculty members onto the system as soon as possible, especially in our Education Department. It seems that our faculty is especially excited about the possibility of training prospective teachers to use instructional applications in elementary and secondary classrooms. Luckily we can use much of our existing administrative software since it is compatible with or upgradable to the computers and network we are planning to use. We have decided to consolidate the various technology support offices on campus into a single office and hire additional staff with network expertise. I think we are also going to hire someone to customize some of our software so that it better meets our needs. We still have some budget issues to work out, but I am hopeful that we can get what we want for a reasonable price. Best of all, even if we can't get all of the needed funding immediately, the network can be designed to be scalable so that it can grow with our available resources and needs without slowing down or becoming obsolete." Just then, the waiter arrived with their meals, and Joe and Mary agreed to stop talking about work. Little did they know that the fun was just beginning.

Back to Chapter 4.

Case Study - Act 5, Scene 1 - Mid-August, six months later
[Accepting that this is a fictitious story and these are small organizations, we'll assume that both Joe's and Mary's funding has been received, that they have selected the computer and networking systems they want, and that they are ready to proceed.]

Mary and Joe decided to meet for coffee one Saturday morning before their schools were scheduled to open for a new academic year. Both were carrying their planner notebooks. Joe greeted Mary as he walked toward the table where she was sipping her Cappuccino. "Mary, I almost didn't recognize you with that tan! You look terrific! It appears the vacation in the Yucatan really agreed with you."

"So much so that I never thought about a computer the whole time I was there. Were you able to get away this summer?"

Joe laughed. "Are you kidding? I spent the summer buried in paperwork-most of it concerning the new technology system. I sure hope it will be worth it. Are you ready for school to start?"

"In general, I would say I'm ready. I have already received some complaints from our faculty concerning the fact that we don't have our network yet. But I tell them I am confident we can have the system up and running by the winter holiday. Do you think I'm delusional?"

"Perhaps," Joe laughed. "Do you have all your new technical staff hired? Is the equipment purchased, and everything else?"

"I think so, but I'm not sure where or how to start," said Mary. "It seems that I'll need to have someone other than a technical person to oversee the process, but I'm not sure who to appoint. Have you started putting things in place?"

"Not exactly. Our consulting group is supposed to start work the day after Labor Day, but they have a lot of questions. I really don't have time to keep answering their questions, especially the ones about where equipment should be located in the schools. I guess I'm going to have to find someone to oversee the process as well. But who should that be?"

Back to Chapter 5.

Case Study - Act 5, Scene 2 - Early the following January
Mary and Joe decided to go out for dessert after attending a meeting. After ordering apple pie á la mode, Joe said, "I really shouldn't be eating this after all the weight I gained during the holidays."

Mary protested, "Oh, you don't look like you've gained an ounce in the ten years I have known you. I hope your holiday was fun."

Joe replied, "I can't complain. After a short visit with my parents, I came back home to learn more about how to use our system. I can't believe that the consulting group got it up and running so quickly. I think it's because I put my assistant superintendent in charge of the project. She managed to keep the consultants on the timeline, despite all the problems we had finding space in the schools for the equipment."

"Well, we're not online yet, but we're making real progress. We have the library set up, which has our faculty ecstatic. Would you believe that through the databases and high speed internet connections, our faculty and students have access to all the resources you used to find only in the largest research libraries? The equipment is in place in all of the buildings, although the network isn't fully operational. The consultants are bringing everything online one piece at a time so that they can troubleshoot more easily and then fix any problems before they activate the next node. We hope to stop running duplicate systems by the beginning of next school year. By the way, do you remember that shy young professor I introduced you to in December? He's the one I put in charge of our implementation."

"You're kidding!?" said Joe. "Has he done a good job? He seemed too meek to be able to provide that kind of leadership."

"You'd be surprised. I surmised there was some forcefulness in him somewhere, and he seemed really knowledgeable about computers. He has done such a good job that I made him our Director of Technology."

Back to Chapter 5.

Case Study - Act 6, Scene 1 - Same evening
As Joe was driving Mary home, he gave her an update on his progress. "I spent some time during the winter break trying to learn how to log on and use our network. I still haven't figured out very much, and the manuals we received are hopeless. My secretary came back from vacation and tried to answer some of my e-mail correspondence. She got so frustrated, she nearly quit. We have a few people who were already comfortable around computers, but I don't know what we are going to do to get the rest of our people trained. Have you thought about how to get your faculty and staff trained?"

"At first I assumed that our technical staff would do all the training," Mary admitted, "but I discovered that knowing everything about the inside of the computer doesn't necessarily prepare one to teach other people how to use them in their jobs. I'm not even sure how much training the faculty will need."

Joe said, "I don't know how much either. I don't even know if we have anyone who knows how to do the training. Maybe we'll just have to wait until school is out for the summer to train the teachers."

"Oh, that will go over big," replied Mary. "Do you think that we should have planned for this ahead of time?

Back to Chapter 6.

Case Study - Act 6, Scene 2 - The following Monday
Joe walked into his office and immediately reached for the telephone. "Hello, Mary?" he said, "I'm so glad you're there. I am terribly frustrated and need to talk with someone who might appreciate my concern. You see, I've just gotten back from a professional development program where the speaker spent almost two hours talking about the various ways a teacher could use technology to deliver the curriculum to students."

"OK, so what is frustrating you? I don't understand." Mary responded sincerely.

Joe explained. "Well, now I understand that in addition to the computers in the main office and those in the library, I have to worry about putting computers in classrooms. And our staff will need to know how to use the computers, projectors, scanners, and printers. The students will need to know how to use this technology too."

Mary interrupted him, "But Joe, we already knew all that, didn't we?"

Joe thought for a moment, "Well, yeah, I guess we did. But you know it will be difficult for some of our staff to accept all this. Some of them may have never before used a computer. And many of those folks have been such an important part of our past that we can't just leave them out of our future."

"I agree completely," Mary affirmed, "so we'll have to put a lot of thought into how we prepare them for these changes."

Joe was finally seeing the picture more clearly. "Okay, I think we might have to reconsider how we offer our staff development program. We'll have to ensure that our teachers are able to integrate this technology into the curriculum. I had better get a group together to see what types of professional development programs are available and, more importantly, which of those programs reflect our local and state curriculum standards."

Mary paused, "You know, Joe, the reality of this project is that we had better have a comprehensive technology plan and a reliable process for implementation. You're right. There is a lot of work to do, but think of how this will affect learning in our schools."

Back to Chapter 6.

Case Study - Act 6, Scene 3 - One Saturday in late March
Mary and Joe picked a nice day to go bicycling. Along the way, they stopped to have a cup of coffee. As they sat on a bench with their coffee cups, Mary said, "It's good to get out now that the weather is getting nice. Fortunately, the nasty weather over the past two months has not hampered our efforts to get our staff trained."

"It's nice to see the trees budding," Joe responded. "It's getting to be that time of the year when it's hard to keep folks inside after school. I'm glad that we got our initial training completed over the winter as well. So how did you end up doing your training?"

"Well, we'd made sure that our technical staff had solid training in computer maintenance and network operation before we hired them. Still, we found it necessary to keep them up-to-date with professional development because everything changes so fast. But since we knew they were well prepared, we were able to have them do the initial introduction on using the network and other basics for the rest of the staff. Then we brought in the various vendors to provide on-sight training on their specific software applications for both the technical staff and everyone else. We were lucky to have had the training center set up in the library. The library folks also received specialized training on their own software and in general computer usage so that they could help students who are having trouble. We've planned a whole series of classes that will be offered on a rotating basis for students and staff. That way, if people feel they need a refresher, they can take a class. What did you finally arrange?"

"Well," Joe began, "We arranged for our technical staff and our technology steering committee to get extensive training in the software we are using. Our technical staff got some training on the equipment, and the consulting firm we are using to maintain our system is going to provide additional training for them. We arranged to use the computer labs in the schools to do the training. With some of the money we set aside, we paid for substitutes so that teachers could be trained during working hours. Our technology steering committee developed training units with the help of the software vendors and the consulting firm. Then, because we don't have much of a training or technology maintenance budget, we had our technical staff train three of our most enthusiastic and able teachers in each building to serve as 'Tech Leaders'. They can help students and other staff members who are having problems and continue to provide some before-school and after-school training at the request of the teachers. There are also a few liaisons who travel to the different schools to demonstrate new instructional software when it is purchased. These liaisons are also planning training activities for the students, but to be honest, I think that many of the students already know more than the liaisons. It's amazing how pleased most people are with the training opportunities. Of course, we still have a few recalcitrant folks who don't want to have anything to do with computers. We're requiring that they do attendance reporting and a few other things on the computer right now, but we're hoping they'll warm up to the possibilities. Say, do you think some of our folks could come to your training classes, if they want?"

"I don't see why not. They're on a first come, first serve basis, and as long as there is space available for all of our folks who sign up, your people would be welcome. By the way, did you ever get any training yourself?"

Joe chuckled. "Oh, yes. At first, I just felt hopelessly inept. Then I realized I couldn't keep up with the training because I was constantly being called back to my office. Finally, I asked one of our technology steering committee members to give me some one-on-one training, and I managed to learn the basics. After a couple of weeks using the computer tutorials, however, I was getting pretty good, and I decided it was fun. Now I'm an expert on spreadsheets."

Mary said, "I'll bet you are. Didn't I say you'd eventually be computer literate? Say, I don't know how to use spreadsheets yet. Maybe you could give me some lessons?"

"Mary, I would be delighted. When do you want to start?"

Back to Chapter 6.

Case Study - Act 7, Scene 1 - The following Saturday
Joe went over to Mary's house to help her figure out how to log onto her network and use the spreadsheet program. Mary had a laptop computer to use at home. "Joe, why do you suppose I can't get logged on to the computer? I've followed all of the directions. Surely it's not because there are too many people using the network, is it? It would be horrible if we already had too many users."

"No, I don't think that's the problem, Mary. I just wish there were someone we could call to ask what we're doing wrong. I guess it wouldn't be very nice to call one of your technology folks at home, would it?"

"No, I'd rather not," Mary said gloomily. "I guess I'll just wait until I get back to the office on Monday."

"Hey, guess what I got last week?" Joe asked, trying to change the subject. "Some parents brought in their old computers for us to use as stand alone units. The machines wouldn't be able to work on our network, but they can still run basic applications like spreadsheets and word processors. They have really helped to cut down the wait for students who want to use a computer at school for writing term papers and doing homework. Unfortunately, we also got some old computers that still run, but can't even handle the most basic software we now use."

Mary sympathized. "Surely you can use them somewhere. What are you doing with them now?"

"They're sitting in a warehouse," replied Joe. "Do you need any?"

"I don't think so. I'll check to see what we did with our old machines. I guess there is always something to think about with a new system."

Back to Chapter 7.

Case Study - Act 7, Scene 2 - The following Friday
Late in the day, Joe called Mary. "Mary, did you get the materials I faxed you last Wednesday? I found them to be really useful. My technology steering group has purchased some software to provide us with reports on usage, and they have set up an e-mail address to handle user questions."

"Yes, thanks a bunch for sending them, Joe, but I think it's time you started using e-mail rather than fax machines."

"I guess you're right," said Joe. "I'll try to remember next time."

Mary continued. "Our technical staff has advertised on campus for students who would be willing to work at a new HELP desk a few hours a week. After screening the students, they found twenty people who seemed pretty knowledgeable. We will begin training them next week. They also bought a software package to get usage reports. Did you ever decide what to do with those donated computers?"

"I think so. I talked with a couple of my friends in other districts, and they said they were still using the older machines and software in their word processing classes. We also created a loan program for some of our students who don't have computers at home, and took the rest of them to the Salvation Army. Maybe they can give them away."

"I checked with Bob to see what we did with our old computers," said Mary. "He said he placed an ad in the paper, and gave them away to whoever wanted them. He said that if a donated machine doesn't fit our system architecture, we turn it down. It's too hard to get the equipment fixed and we can't use our software on the machines anyway."

"Mary, I didn't really call to talk about our computer systems. I wanted to see if you would like to join me for dinner and a movie tomorrow night."

"I was wondering if you would ever get around to asking me out. I was afraid you were turning into a computer guru, Joe."

"No, Mary. I hired someone to be the computer guru, so now I finally have some time to pursue other interests."

Back to Chapter 7.

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