Practical Theory - The Origin
The Scholars in CyberEnglish
ToDaY's MeNu - Ted

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Digital Divide

The Digital Divide isn't just about students who have or don't have access, it is also about teachers. Across the country we are seeing and hearing about Bring Your Own Technology programs in schools which is great and good thinking. The problem happens in schools with their limitations in access, obtuse rules and filters, and most importantly overwhelmed teachers who have to juggle all these platforms and technologies and then somehow incorporate and integrate all these technologies and personalities in one class. And that is the rub, ONE TEACHER ONE CLASSROOM. That's the real digital divide.

Another common story is about a teacher in a school who is doing wonderful things, wins awards, is named a Teacher of the Year, and in the end wilts away, retires, or moves on. The problem of course it is always about one teacher in one school. The reason for this is that we have a terrible digit divide with teachers. PD in schools stinks and teacher training in colleges is worse. Walk into any school and we will find the majority not using technology and even worse too many not interested. The main problem is that we teach the way we were taught.

We need to rethink our schools before we implement any genius plan or copy any Teacher of the Year in our limited Model Schools. Schools are all wrong. Our students walk into school and have one teacher per class per hour. They spend too much time moving from room to room, setting up, and packing up. Each class is a different discipline like English, math, science, history and so on. One teacher and one discipline. Add technology to this mix and well you will get chaos, failure, and frustration. This has to change. Instead let's incorporate a real paradigm shift and actually think out of the box. Reconfigure that box. The students have a desk with technology that is their workplace, like an office worker. Redesign existing rooms with cubicles, knock down walls where possible to make larger spaces. In these new learning spaces, students work in groups and the teachers come to them. Teachers work in teams. These teams would be made up of a tech expert and a content expert. In cases where students are working on projects that demand different skills, a group of teachers move together. For example let's say the students are working on a project about the bicycle. The end product should be a webpage that incorporates wikis, blogs, flash and other technology. To help the students they will need a math teacher, a science teacher, a history teacher, a business teacher, a gym teacher and others to help them deconstruct the bicycle from different perspectives and then reconstruct the bicycle on a webpage for our global community. The students work in groups, provide presentations, and individual products. Schools design and create project ideas that involve their entire faculty. Of course the Internet becomes their resource and place to work. The students will go to lunch, go to gym, go to science labs, but they will work from their workspace and teachers will move among selected groups as a team. Redesign the school day to address education and the digital divide. This way the existing technology can be used better and the digital divide that exists with teachers will disappear. This will be part of better professional development in addition to more aggressive after school PD for all teachers. PD works only when what is learned is relevant, current, immediately used the next day. Teachers should stop working alone.

We shouldn't just be considering the student when it comes to the digit divide, we must also consider the teacher, and the school. Rethinking schools, reconfiguring schools is another way to fix and improve education in this country so that we DON'T continue to teach the way we were taught and keep getting the same discouraging results. Instead we must teach for the future by being the future. The paradigm shift I call for is huge and will require a great deal of work and readjusting as well as tearing down some walls, but that is thinking out of the box and really addressing the Digital Divide.

No comments: