Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Reality bites

Hare rant 1/14/09

The biggest problem I see with identifying and adopting a technology curriculum is by the time it has it is actually used in the classroom, the technology we're teaching is yesterday's news. I talked a little about this in the previous post. While I have little problem, PowerPoint aside, with the technologies I mentioned, in many cases they change too quickly to be locked into a static curriculum. A teacher told me the other day he was required to take an AV class in college. Know any school that is still using slide projectors or movie projectors?

Well, what if we focused on emerging technologies and put those in our technology curriculum? Education blogs, wikis, articles, conventions and symposiums are abuzz with how to successfully bring cell phones, smart phones, ipods and other devices into the classroom. Likewise, social networking places such as MySpace and Facebook, collaborative tools such as wikis and blogs and even virtual worlds like Second Life are working their way into education settings. Proponents say we must meet our students where they are and reach them with technologies they are already using. Okay, I am almost on board.

Let's take a realistic look specifically at my school situation...The technology we have is serviceable but old. Most PCs are running Windows XP, but many are still limping along on Windows 2000 and 256 MB RAM. Every teacher has a laptop, but few classrooms have computers in them. We have volume licenses for Microsoft Office and Kidspiration only. All the other software titles taking up space in the storage room work only on operating systems long gone. There are laptop carts for checkout, but the process is cumbersome and teachers have no one designated to help them figure out good ways to use them with students. We have one mounted LCD projector in the Media center, but it is not anywhere near the desktop computers. We have one LCD projector for check out in a school of 20 classrooms. Our pipe to the Internet was robust 10 years ago. Now we can merely dream of taking advantage of the wondrous free tools out there. One class trying to use Google Earth brings the district network traffic to an excruciating crawl. And there is no money and because of our district structure there is no opportunity to raise any through tax levies or referendum. Persistent, dedicated teachers have found ways to work with the media specialist to muscle pieces of today technologies into their lessons, but the idea of designing a technology curriculum that meets the needs of today's students quite frankly is baffling to us all.
Before the next post I'll put some research and thought into how the idea of a technology curriculum could be worked into a model that could work over time and without regard for the actual technology resources available.

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