I work with my friend in order to sell these pretty useful Chromebook protectors. Another friend was discussing the covers with some of his friends who work in one of the 50 largest school districts in the nation. They laughed at the idea of adding protection to their Chromebooks. They told him that the devices don't break, but I know the breakage rate is probably around 10%. Then they said that if one does break, they just send it back to Google and get a new one. Easy, right? Not really, since Google (or their actual distributor) knows there's a standard breakage rate, and if free replacement is offered, that rate was considered in price quote or insurance plan that was purchased. In a large school district, these amounts not only add up but are also covered up because of the large scale and limited accountability.

My friend told me that another guy at their little meeting was in charge of updating technology in the schools, but because of the size of the district, they could only do one school at a time. When standards change yearly, that's simply insane. For example, in the district I was in, Smartboards were added (God knows why), along with projectors. This was in 2012, and the projectors were capable of ONLY VGA inputs and lower resolution outputs. That's because the purchase was really from several years before and had yet to be installed at my school. Sad. Later, as I taught a film class and asked if I could have a better projector with HDMI, but I was told we didn't have that technology. Really, in 2013, there were no HDMI projectors in the school? And it would not have really mattered, since the old-school computers they'd purchased for us also lacked HDMI, so it would have been a DVD player from home that I was going to hook up. The point is that the big school district could not be nimble and make decisions now, so all those tech upgrades were always years behind.

Big heads play as big a role as anything in school tech departments that fail. I'm not saying every school needs the Chromebook covers I mentioned, but most of the tech guys I've met believed they were God's gift to technology. You are a school technology director, for heaven's sake, not Steve Jobs. You didn't invent anything, and your decisions are not always right. Just because you can send 10% of your Chromebooks back to the warehouse and pay yearly fees does not mean that it's the best way, and just because you chose soft case covers does not mean some other way works, too. Your job, as someone who pays taxes to a school district, is to make sure these tech people are more than just smug guys who think every decision they make is beyond reproach. I've seen poor implementation of online teaching tools, purchases of horrible teacher websites, and so many purchases that seemed to be approved by no one. But those purchases need YOUR approval.

Can you fix these problems. The answer is not to just stop technology spending. It's to buy the right stuff. Maybe your district wants to pay extra for insurance rather than covers for Chromebooks. That's not a huge issue. But make sure the tech department is asking the teachers, students, and parents what THEY think rather than simply making decisions based on cheaper prices or cool factor. Cheaper items, like old projectors, might come back to hurt you later, and cool factor items might never live up to expectations. Buy one and have teachers test it out instead of buying 1000 and implementing it district-wide over the summer. Use common sense.