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Tuesday, March 31 2015

My son's school recently considered installing a classroom set of computers in response to parent's desire to incorporate technology in the classroom.  I do have concerns with the idea of a mobile set of computers available for use in the classrooms, but my concerns are not with using the computers in this way.  I absolutely think that computers should be utilized in the classrooms, but not just as an occasional project.  This would constitute a partial deployment of technology, and would essentially shift the burden of leveraging technology to the teachers rather than the administration.  I can envision a scenario in which the computers are rarely used which would be presented as proof that the need did not really exist.  Or, a few teachers will get excited and use them heavily which would make them unavailable for other classrooms.  I could also imagine that the administration might ration the time on the computers to allow for more students to use them, which would eliminate the student's ability to effectively use them for ongoing research and problem solving.  Bottom line, this represents only token acknowledgement of the issue and seems designed only to placate those who are frustrated by the refusal of the school administration to incorporate technology.  Is this better that what we have now?  Yes.  It is just not enough.


I would like to see technology integrated into the curriculum and

education process of our school so that our kids will learn how to thrive in the context of their lives. 


I would rather see technology integrated into the curriculum and education process so that our kids learn how to thrive in the context of their lives.   I don’t think we need courses on how to use computers.  Instead, I would rather see us provide instruction on ways to solve problems using a wide variety of tools and methods, which includes technology.  It seems rather short sighted to me to think that we can teach relevant problem solving techniques while we shut off technology as a viable tool.  Technology does not have to be, and should not be, the focus of the education process.  The world into which our kids are heading as they leave our homes is a place where people need to know how to use technology to their advantage in order to maximize potential.   Where should our kids learn these skills?  Am I, as a parent, forced to watch my son use a library to research and then hand write a paper and then teach him how he could have done the project more efficiently using technology?  This seems to make a bigger deal of technology in it’s absence.

When my oldest son started high school at a different school, they were just beginning a one-to-one notebook program.  He learned to organize his work and take notes on a computer and there was a concerted effort on the part of the teachers and administration to incorporate technology into the classroom.  He learned to effectively use his computer to research and prepare for debate tournaments as well as his regular classes.  I really don’t think that the school could have supported the debate program without the technology.  Of course there were issues and the administration had to learn to deal with the many challenges that come with the technology.  Some teachers embraced the opportunity while others did not.  But even in classrooms where the teachers did not integrate technology into their teaching methods, the students were still able to take notes and prepare assignments using their computers.  Over time, the program matured into a supporting part of school life as opposed to a focus.  This trial and error process worked because there was a strong commitment from the administration to incorporate technology.  Without this firm resolve, the program would have been scrapped after a few setbacks.  The school was a pioneer in this area as there were not very many models for them to use.  Now, we have the advantage of numerous schools who have tackled this issue before and we can avoid a great many false steps. 

Questions about life skill development:

  • How do we teach our kids to value privacy in a world where they live their lives in public view?
  • How do we incorporate our Christian witness into our online personas?
  • How do we learn to exercise restraint from viewing content available on the internet?
  • How do we balance our virtual time with our physical time with our friends?

Questions to explore:

  • How do we leverage Social Media in the educational process?
  • How can communication be enhanced using personal technology?
    • Parent/Teacher
    • Student/Teacher
    • Teacher/Teacher

Barriers:

  • We have traditionally banned personal technology when we could have been helping kids learn how to manage it.
  • If given an option, most teachers will not incorporate technology into their classroom because it is not something that they fully understand.
  • Teacher education and encouragement would have to be a part of a successful integration project.
  • If the administration is not convinced that the integration of technology is essential, it will fail.

Benefits of acting now:

  • The emergence of Tablets and ChromeBooks dramatically lowers the financial barrier to entry of technology in the school. 
  • We are able to observe many successful models of incorporating technology into the classroom.
  • There are significant benefits to this approach even if kids are only in it for their senior year.
Posted by: Rob Overton AT 07:54 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
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