7 Ways To Sabotage Your Device Initiative

ipad device classroom

Do you ever think an idea is just terrible, but you are forced to do it? Like this whole trend in education with all these devices being brought into schools, or in some cases, even purchased by the schools. As absurd as this may sound, it’s happening people, and it’s high time we take a stand and stop this madness. Now, something with this much momentum might be hard to derail, but I’d like to provide you with some tools necessary to sabotage a device initiative if you are having to lead one in your district.

1. Go REAL fast

Technology changes by the milli-second, so there is a sense of urgency to go from pilot to full-fledged implementation overnight. Can you deploy all the devices in one year? Why not?! Even though research shows its much easier to focus your attention on smaller scenarios and pilots, you should ignore that research. It would better to just have the equivalent of widespread panic throughout your buildings due to lack of support, direction, and successful pilot scenarios. Patience is for the weak!

2. Neglect buy-in

A leader trying to make a splash in student learning doesn’t have time to get buy-in from everyone. Besides, we’re trying to sabotage this thing right? As a leader of a device initiative that you want to fail, the best course of action is to be like Nike and “Just Do It”. This means you should make sure to NOT mention any of this to the families, teachers, campus leaders or support staff until after you’ve already decided to do the initiative and have committed to your full-fledged implementation.

3. Let your IT department choose the device

Everyone always says these devices are for instruction, but let’s be honest – the people who should choose them are the people with the least amount of instructional background. Since the IT department HAS to support these devices, they should be the ones that get to choose it. Ideally, it would also be the cheapest device with the best, most robust management possible so we can track, lock-down, and totally control these little nuisances on our networks. In terms of what the kids can access on them, we should probably be sure to block all social networks, any video streaming, and ideally, while time-intensive, just white-list about a dozen sites deemed appropriate for education like sites about bunnies or a list of mathematical riddles from 1976.

4. Ignore parent concerns

Parents aren’t in the classroom, and they should really just trust what you are doing. Sure, they might not be on board, but you don’t have time to listen to all of that noise about digital wellness and cyberbullying. Besides, you are the person that saved them money remember? You bought the cheapest possible device and you are saving paper! They should be happy with those accomplishments alone. While it might make sense to have an FAQ page on a website somewhere ,or even host a few parent nights, that would go against your purpose here to sabotage the whole thing.

5. Teachers don’t need training

Heck, we’ve all heard how “magical” these devices supposedly are. Why would teachers need any training on them? Or, in the case of BYOD, since the kids should know their own devices, the teachers don’t need to figure out a way to support it. We don’t need to spend money on training or hiring staff to support these things instructionally. That’s WAY too expensive and pointless since you are hoping this will just die a natural death. Teaching can still happen the way it always has. Maybe the kids can pull out their devices to write some notes or something. Hey! That’ll save paper and make you look better in the eyes of the public! If teachers aren’t comfortable with that, they should tell kids to keep the devices put away until the last 5 minutes of class when they can be rewarded for a good day of listening by playing the games of their choice. Again, ideally, the game would involve bunnies or math riddles.

6. Keep principals out of the loop

Dr. Anthony Muhammad has said that the single most important member of a district to get something off the ground is the campus administrator. They hold the keys to setting campus expectations and communicating the goals and objectives to their staff. They also are the front line for parent and teacher concerns. Since we’re trying to derail this initiative, why not just keep them out of the loop? That way, there won’t be any staff expectations of use, and they will hopefully just end up as door stops or real expensive paper weights in classrooms in the future.

7. Launch a whole bunch of other initiatives at the same time

Rather than focus energy, time and resources on making this a success, let’s pile on a bunch of other tasks to keep teachers’ heads spinning. This will not only take time away from the device initiative, it’ll make teachers really frustrated and burnt out which will expedite its eventual demise. Teachers will complain to principals (who are out of the loop) and eventually to parents (who you’re not listening to anyway). There may be a rogue teacher or two that tries, against all odds, to make this successful, but take solace in knowing that even if this cheap device works, they’ll only be able to access sites about bunnies and math riddles.

There you have it! If you follow these strategies, your district’s device initiative will surely fail. All will be right in the world again, and you will be able to go back to the “good ol’ days” of overhead projectors and maybe 3 or 4 desktops in the back of the classroom. If someone wants to bring in a device, it better be a Palm Pilot.

And it better have bunnies on it….

Carl Hooker will be talking about 10 Things NOT to do in an iPad 1:1 Implementation at the November 14-15 iPad Summit in Boston.

EdTechTeacher advertises on this site. Thumbnail via Lecture Tools


  1. Terice

    October 17, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    After working with 1:1 iPads for the last three years, I have to say I totally agree with this list. Great post!

  2. Dawn Casey-Rowe

    October 20, 2013 at 8:05 am

    This is a great article, Carl, and I wish I could get away for the iPad Summit except that it would look suspicious because we don’t have any iPads. We’ve been trying to move forward with our tech integration at my school, but it’s difficult. I’m rooting for the BYOD and grassroots training, along with onboarding a “class” of train the teacher kids. Heck, I’ve got them already–I’m a mac person and when I can’t do something immediately on the Win7, I call them out, and they get the job done. I trust them. I’m saving this article to think–I just want this done. We’ve been researching and connecting with those who have gone before us, though, and I have some great support by leading IT people willing to try and help others avoid pitfalls they’ve already seen. I’m grateful. Nice post.

  3. Neith

    October 21, 2013 at 8:43 am

    Great post! I forwarded it to our IT dept AND the principal! (…of course I’m the rogue teacher ……