Our kids, or the kids that are in school today, have had some sort of computer in their hands since they were maybe two years old. Their parents cell phone, iPad, a Leap Frog device, laptop, or other electronic toys; have always been easily accessible. So we send these kids to school and drop a book on their desk and expect them to learn?! They are used to listening to music, watching TV and carrying on a conversation all while not missing a beat. Learning from a book is such a stark contrast from what they are used to; books are too slow, non-interactive, and uninspiring for kids these days and I don’t blame them.
Public education in this country is going downhill for many reasons and just handing a student an iPad is not going to solve the problem. The implementation of technology in the classroom or blended learning projects, that I have seen, have not been well thought out. Sadly, K-12 education is behind in innovation, funding, and the rest of the developed world.
We need to have updated and useful technology in the classroom. Many schools I come across have bought technology, like iPads, without a full encompassing plan to implement the technology. They have failed to ask the important questions like: What are you going to do with these iPads? Will there be a one-to-one ratio of device to student? For effective learning there has to be. Do you have a technical support staff that can support these devices in a timely manner? Do you have enough backups to replace non-functioning devices immediately? Have you trained a point person on your campus to help teachers with the initial troubleshooting of the technology? Will your current broadband connection support these added devices? Does your planned usage fall within FERPA and COPPA laws and regulations? Moreover, do you have software to put on these devices that will allow students to accomplish their educational goals effectively?
The schools need to have a technological support system that can keep the software and hardware in working order. And this cannot just be people, educational institutions need to use the latest in push technology to update software and configurations on desktops instantly and offer remote support to be able to survive. Schools cannot rely on 1-4 tech support people in a school to manage everything, or even worse…to support the entire school district. It just doesn’t work. Education needs to invest in the right support tools at the district level. When done right, in the long run, they will save time and money.
So now that we have covered the support system needed to sustain the technology in the classroom, what are you going to put on these devices? Before you even decide on the hardware, or the software, decide on what the outcome should be. Do you want to increase algebra scores? What applications will achieve your goals? IS THE APPLICATION AVAILABLE for the devices you are looking at or already have purchased? This is where many schools and districts fail.
It happens a lot in this scenario: school administrators are at a function, seminar or conference; they talk with someone and make a deal to bring in new technology, thinking they are doing something great, but there wasn’t a project plan thoroughly thought through and then politics get in the way.
The politics… yeah the politics! Sadly there are waaayyyy too many politics around education, from teachers and principals resistant to change and innovation; to school districts adversarially dropping new technology into schools without a project plan.
Without proper planning and administrative support, technology in the classrooms will fail. In this way, we are failing our kids by not adapting their education to the new age of technology.