WebQuery, iPad RFP and normalized deviance

In a previous post, I talked a little about the WebQuery tool. The Unit 4 Educational Technology team has replaced that tool and now has a new one:

the Proximity App


It simplifies the entire tool significantly; no grade level to worry about, no other non-Unit 4 schools….  However, I kinda still wish that ALL other schools were still listed. What if I really really want to go to BTW, but want to compare the distance to other schools? In any event, I think this new interface is significantly less confusing, and thus more useful.

iPad RFP

My RSS reader recently noticed that several RFP have been filed, including two for ChromeOS laptops, another for Desktops and laptops, and another for iPads. I have questions about all of them, and rifled through the online documentation trying to learn more. Unfortunately, none of the posted documentation really says what these things are needed for or why the district is seeking them. So I looked a little more carefully at the iPad RFP and noticed that they want 180 of 2nd Generation iPads. 180. I had to pause for a little. And then I asked Executive Director of Business Matt Foster about the RFP and he informed me they were for “student instruction.” So I then asked the Board and Stephanie Stuart for more details. Stephanie replied that they would be used for the “ESL Department for world language instruction across the district.” A quick look on Amazon shows these selling for about $330; so the upper limit on this bid should be in the neighborhood of $54,000 (give or take, depending on bulk discounts, taxes, etc), right?

The whole purpose for posting RFPs online is so that public can see, to affect some level of transparency. Therefore, I have told Matt Foster and the Board I am quite thankful. Of course, this allows the public to form questions as well, which I think is a natural part of the stakeholder’s job. So what questions do you have?

and finally….

Normalized Deviance

What the heck is this, you think to yourself. It is a little bit of a tangled tale how I ended up at a wikibook site about Diane Vaughan’s theory on the “normalization of deviance.” To break it down in simple language, basically this describes what happens if you do something wrong enough times, you lose that “it’s wrong” feeling and start to think it really isn’t that big of a deal. Until something REALLY BAD happens like a space shuttle blowing up.

What strikes me is the “Solutions” section, which gives a very good justification for true transparency and a type of accountability that has long-term mutual benefits. The same kind of stuff that can make a marriage really strong (or break it if these things are not found). It is having a team mentality, as opposed to a individualistic mindset. Unfortunately, the popular American machine rewards and idolizes the individual, which probably goes a long way towards explaining a number of problems we have today (massive inequities, the “1%”, a heavy-handed government, etc). Dr. Vaughan points out that many people withhold from bringing problems (aka, deviances) into the light for many reasons; pride, fear of retribution, assuming the experts know best to name a few. Yet, if we focus on a true education of facts with an open eye towards the larger group, we can avoid the ritual of glossing over or ignoring the problems we see around us.

Which leads me to conclude with a thought I have for another post.


2 Responses to “WebQuery, iPad RFP and normalized deviance”

  1. Governance and civic responsibility, take 2 | Citizen4: A citizen's blog about Champaign Unit 4 Says:

    […] This is the kind of mindset I have when I ask various city managers/planners and the school district Business office about Tax Incremental Financing (TIF). TIF, and it’s brother “Enterprise Zones”, have a very strong focus on “economic development”. Which sounds all good and dandy. What really concerns me is that 1) the public is largely uneducated on these issues and 2) a significant lack of accountability on promises and goals. I believe city managers and planners have good intentions at heart. I think there is a systemic mentality about meeting the letter of the law but not really addressing the intent of the law (another example of normalized deviance). […]

  2. World Languages Curriculum | Citizen4: A citizen's blog about Champaign Unit 4 Says:

    […] mentioned earlier that I noticed an RFP for 180 iPads (2nd Generation). I was more curious than anything; the RFP […]

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