Saturday, May 30, 2009

My Bookmarks and Annotations 05/30/2009

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Friday, May 29, 2009

What Did I Do - May 29, 2009

Just a quick note on how I am writing these posts. I am doing some of it throughout the day as an open email and then closing them at the end of a day. At some point I will email them to my blog. Therefore there may be tense issues in one post... It will be part of the ride I guess.

Here goes WDID for today:

Friday's always seem to be weird in this role. They take one of 3 possible paths

1. Meetings

2. Disasters

3. Catch up/ close out the week

Thank God today is a #3.

As of 9:47 I have been closing out a list of tasks. A couple of letter's of recommendation for some co-workers, some research on the Illinois Virtual High School, and a couple of other tasks.

I am about to turn my attention to my Google Reader and catch up on the happenings in the tech world.

I also will be writing a blog post on how we put together bids/quotes here and the savings we tend to see from it. You should see that post elsewhere in my blog early next week.

Ok it is 11:23 - gave up on Google reader. Went back a little way and marked all as read. I am going to watch the whole Google Wave presentation instead. I read the reviews and the write up, but I want to see the whole thing.

1pm. WOW - google wave even better than advertised - game changer!

Afternoon was spent on a couple other things on the to-do list. I also finished up the other blog posting on purchasing/RFQ that is below this one.

The day ended with my end of the year review with my boss (who is now the new Superintendent). It went very well. I have a couple of things to work on for next year, but overall they are very happy with the job I am doing here. So am I :)

Have a good weekend everyone!

Henry C. Thiele Ed.D.

The RFQ Process Part 1

One of the biggest responsibilities that a Tech Director has is using their budget correctly to meet the needs of their school(s). For the 2009-10 school year I have a fabulous budget of $2,843,405 to meet all of the technology needs of our district (about $400 per student). This is a larger number than year's past (except last year) and is greater than we plan to spend each year over the next 10 years (the long term plan is about $315 per student per year).

We are currently in the process of catching technology up in areas that we fell behind from the late 90's through 2006 due to a lack of funding for technology initiatives.

We have in place a 3 year plan from 2008-2011 that was approved by the Board of Education that outlines our budget for each of those years. We built out our expected expenditures based on a long visioning and planning process last year. Now in year 2 we revisited those plans and put together a budget plan. We then shared that plan with all of the staff via a Google spreadsheet. Our budgeting and purchasing process is totally transparent to everyone in the organization. After July 1 I may post the document to the public.

The result of all of this budgeting and planning is the development of a Request for Quote (RFQ). In Illinois technology purchases do not have to go through a formal blind bid so we use a modified version of a bid in our RFQ.

Our First RFQ for this year is available here

All year long we update our database of vendors and we email our RFQ's out to all of them. Last Friday we collected all of the quotes and have spent the last week going through them. We will announce winners by next Friday.

The important part of this process is getting vendors to compete. We usually realize a 5-20% savings over the best prices we could have found just by searching on the internet. We followed a similar model in Palatine Township District 211 when I was there (they used a true blind bid) and we saw similar savings.

One of the key pieces is how we structure the computer quotes. If you look at the quote you will see that computers are bid by components. This gives that greatest chance for competition. We almost always accept comparable bids to the products we list. More competitors equals greater savings.

The lesson here - you don't always have to get more money to have more money.

Stay tuned for the result of the RFQ's and the completion of the budgeting/purchasing process for this year.

Do you do it differently? What can we learn from each other?

SET Connections May Newsletter Article

Here is what I submitted for my May Newsletter Article for SetConnections.

is an organization dedicated to helping educators use technology to better meet the needs of students with individual special needs.

My favorite tool for anything online is Google. I am not talking about Google Documents, Calendar, Tasks, Maps, Sites, Blogger, Moderator, Sketch-Up, iGoogle pages, or any of the other applications they offer (FOR FREE!!!). I am referring to the good old Google search. – you know – .com.

What is so great about it? We all know that if you search for something you can get back something that is probably related in a split second. Actually you usually get millions of pages of information that are related. There are a couple of tips out there for making these searches better. Google has several pages put together to help you use this powerful tool better. Here are some you might want to visit and some highlights associated with each:

Basic Search Tips:

  • To see the weather for many U.S. and worldwide cities, type "weather" followed by the city and state, U.S. zip code, or city and country
  • To see current market data for a given company or fund, type the ticker symbol into the search box.
  • To see the time in many cities around the world, type in "time" and the name of the city.

Advanced Search Tips:

  • Phrase search ("") By putting double quotes around a set of words, you are telling Google to consider the exact words in that exact order without any change.
  • Search within a specific website (site:) Google allows you to specify that your search results must come from a given website.
  • Terms you want to exclude (-) Attaching a minus sign immediately before a word indicates that you do not want pages that contain this word to appear in your results..

Other Cool Google Search Tools:

  • Type in a calculation into the search box. 2+2= will come back with a result of 4.
  • Type in a conversion. “Convert 1 inch to cm” will bring back a result of 1 inch = 2.54 cm.
  • To see the geographical location for any U.S. telephone area code, just type the three-digit area code into the Google search box and hit the Enter key or click the Google Search button.

There is also a great handout of tips that you can post for your students to use that is available at

Here is the best tip that hardly anyone knows about Google searches: Type in the answer instead of the question.


You want to know how tall Mt. Everest is.

Don't type in "How tall is Mt. Everest?"

Do Type "Mt. Everest is * tall"

The "*" acts as a wildcard and Google looks for the missing information.

Here are some other great resources on Google to check out:

Happy Googling!

So What I Did - May 28, 2009

A lot of conversation today about 1:1 student laptops. We are trying to determine the procedures and details for a 1:1 student pilot. We think we have a couple of curricular areas that match up to try this out. We are going to use netbooks for the pilot - which ones and exactly how are TBD.

I will post details on this topic when more is solidified.

We are also finishing up deciding winners for our first request for quote (RFQ). More details to come on this tomorrow when the winners are announced. Kyle has been kicking butt on this and we are seeing some great pricing.

Other than that Mark and I spent the day trying to pull data out of Eduphoria to determine who has not yet submitted an electronic form. I think we both learned a lot about the database and how we can leverage it for data in the future.

I talked with Google today. They want to use Maine 207 in a case study for how we use Google Documents/Google Apps for Education. That should be a fun project.

I finished the day off by writing my May article for SETConnections.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Blog Shift in Focus

In a lot of ways I have been ignoring my blogging. Twitter has gotten most of my attention, but I think I have stumbled on a new focus for this blog.

I am going to start focusing on my job. In the past I have focused on the theories behind my role as a Technology Director and the resources that support that role. However, little of that is what I actually do. Sure, visioning and theory is powerful - but what we actually do with it is what matters.

From here on out you are going to read mostly about the day to day (week to week - or month to month - depending on when I can write) activities of me as a tech director.

Hopefully this will serve as a record for me to reflect back on and can perhaps serve as somewhere for other directors to look at and see what someone else is doing - or perhaps a place for others to see what this job entails.

For those of you following - I hope this serves a purpose for you.

My Bookmarks and Annotations 05/28/2009

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

My Bookmarks and Annotations 05/09/2009

  • The Electronic Frontier Foundation's Fred von Lohmann sez, "Hearings for the DMCA triennial rulemaking are going on this week in DC, where the educational community is asking for an exemption to rip DVDs to take clips for classroom use. The MPAA responded with a video showing how to camcord (!) movies from a flat screen monitor, arguing that educators and students should do this instead of ripping DVDs. In the words of media literacy researcher Martine Courant Rife, that's like typing up a quote from a book, taking it outside, chiseling the words in a rock, photographing the rock, scanning the photo, and running OCR on it. And for what?"

    tags: copyright

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

My Bookmarks and Annotations 05/05/2009

  • As part of a nationwide festival of tributes to the balladeer and songleader in 2005, The Nation published this Studs Terkel essay to mark Pete Seeger's 86th birthday.

    tags: Music

  • Pete Seeger sings Tom Paxton's song live on the "Tonight In Person" Show (1964).

    Here's some of the "best" lyrics:

    I learned that Washington never told a lie.
    I learned that soldiers seldom die.
    I learned that everybody's free.
    And that's what the teacher said to me.
    That's what I learned in school today.
    That's what I learned in school.

    Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

    tags: Music

  • Protagonize is an online community originally dedicated to the (nearly) lost art of the addventure (yes, that's spelled right), a very specific type of collaborative fiction. Recently, the site has been expanded to support the creation of linear stories, as well. We hope this will allow the site to attract a broader community of authors looking to create collaborative, interactive fiction.

    Linear stories are familiar to everyone, but you may be asking yourself: how exactly does an addventure work? Early forms of this on the web date back over a decade, when popularized a site called "Choose Your Own Schizophrenia", a collaborative fiction site popular in the mid-to-late '90s. Of course, this all dates back to the old Choose Your Own Adventure™ series that started back in 1979 and ran until 1998, published by Bantam Books. To quote the wondrous Wikipedia (and to save us writing something that's already been explained better by someone else):

    tags: writing, collaboration, web2.0, community, social, book, storytelling, design

  • Company Overview The Team Our Board and Advisors Partners News & Press Advertise Careers Contact Us Watch the Video
    The Web has changed, so we felt the need to change websites.

    Some call it Web 2.0, others call it the social web. We call it a change. Blogs, social networks, wiki's and other recent innovations have transformed the Web and how many of us use it.

    While these new innovations are clearly powerful, we don't believe that they've adequately empowered people within groups to come together and collectively make things happen. So we've made it our mission to introduce the Groupsite, a new kind of website.

    Groupsites embody the Web's evolution into a social/collaborative medium by bringing together the most useful features of traditional websites, discussion forums, listservs, blogs, collaboration software and social networks.

    With Groupsites, people from a wide range of professional and social groups within companies, communities, non-profits, families and more are now able to instantly and easily communicate, share, network. Best of all, basic Groupsites are FREE to create and can be setup to be public; completely private and secure; or somewhere in between.

    tags: web2.0, collaboration, social, group, community, tools, communication, socialsoftware

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

My Bookmarks and Annotations 05/02/2009

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.