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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Technology: What is the raison d'être in education?

I would love to see the technology trends for 2010 as published in a recent THE JOURNAL happen. Heck, I've been rooting for the advancement of technology in education for years. I won't hold my breath though. We have been here before. Education has a hard time incorporating innovative and useful technology in the classroom. Remember the AV kids in schools who would help teachers with the projector technology. Now we have schools filled with tech savvy kids and non tech savvy teachers with too little training to bring the teachers up to speed in technology use. When states demand that technology be part of the assessment, technology will be used. When teachers are trained and willing to use the technology, the technology will be used. Schools of ed do little to train new teachers in using these technologies in schools. We are a culture stuck in a rut of SOSO as far as education goes. Maintain the status quo is our credo. The article highlights 5 technologies to look out for.

Use of ebooks is hard to believe will ever happen. Book publishers make too much money to allow this to happen. Of course it makes perfect sense for many reasons, but the bottom line in profits will never let this happen. There's money in them 'thar' textbooks. A great idea, but it will never be realized.

The netbook is another dream. The infrastructure of most schools couldn't handle the power and internet needs for all of these devices. Not enough teachers use the web to present their lessons, they still have paper handouts and worksheets. The netbook will be just another toy and distractive device in our technophobic classrooms and schools. Another good and logical hope that will remain in the nether.

More use of whiteboards would be a beautiful thing as students could be more involved. Again a pipe dream. Whiteboards are an incredible tool that just aren't used correctly. They have become expensive chalkboards, pretty places to tape poster paper, useful projection screens, but not used in the Smartboard or Prometheus way for which they were designed. It is a new way of teaching and not the way we were taught or trained, so this will never happen. Chalk is in our blood.

The use of personal devices in classes will never happen. We have become such an untrustworthy and anti-tech group of people in schools that personal devices present a challenge to our authority and control. There are so many important and fantastic uses for these devices and yet we haven't seen it happen. Why? Our fear and ignorance again rules our decision making in school policy. A lack of imagination and a lack of understanding of how technology and personal devices might enhance our instruction will always prevent this from happening. Teaching has become a matter of control and these personal devices strip the control from the teacher.

We need more than an assessment tool. I've worked with such tools in schools and have been very disappointed. We are shooting too low to what we really need. We need to develop databases of student work, the actual work digitized and then commented on by teachers and others for future teachers and employers to see and assess the student hirself. Databases that follow the student from class to class, from school to school, from state to state. I'd love to see the documents not test scores. The problem I have found with these programs is that they just can't or don't keep current with the student body. Because they are proprietary software, the schools do not have the necessary access to update the program on a daily basis. I found them not to be school or teacher friendly.

I would love to see some of these ideas actually happen, but as I have said before, I won't hold my breath. We should also consider the costs of each of these ideas. Money is just another small reason why these ideas are hard to fathom. Schools are constantly having their budgets slashed. How are these ideas going to be realized on just a fiscal level? Now on the pedagogical level, our teaching culture just won't let it happen. We merely need to look at how we still operate our schools. Our schools still operate the same way they were run when we were students, the way they were run when our parents were students, and the same way when their parents were students. We have had technology in schools for the past hundred years and we are constantly seeing reluctance to its use. Teachers are still ill prepared to use the existing technology. Schools expect teachers to figure it out on their own. Schools of Education the places that prepare teachers to teach have done nothing to promote technology use in their training of the new teachers. We have not rethought how education and technology can be used correctly. Teachers still like the control factor of their classroom and technology threatens them. I would love to see existing technology used well let alone these pipe dreams presented by THE JOURNAL.

I'd really love to see more requirements from the states to demand that technology and webfolios be made part of the assessment tools of each student. Then we will see an improved and innovative use of technology in schools and in education. There isn't a reason to use technology in education if the final assessment doesn't involve or demand its use. We need a raison d'être for technology in our schools and that doesn't exist in educational policy or in our pedagogy. Taking chances in education doesn't have the rewards.

Here is some good news. I have recently read FSC Students Help St. Joseph's Teachers Get 'Smart' about how college students from Florida Southern College were being 'tech buddies to teachers at St. Joseph's a private school, in Florida, as sponsored by Smartboard technologies. This is very encouraging even if it is a single private school. The concept of 'tech buddies' is a good one and would help colleges be more tech savvy and helping transfer it into schools. Telementoring was an idea I strted many years ago and saw it as a way for colleges to help get their teachers ready for teaching.

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