OK. It’s time for a rant!
Schools are behind when it comes to technology. The sad fact is that this is no surprise to many of us.
Why is it that we have such little time, support and resources when planning to implement new technologies into our programs?
Very often staff are excited about new ideas and resources but find it hard to find the time to “play” and learn without having to push other things to the side. Often we are required to do so much in our regular days that using technology isn’t the priority. It needs to be.
When we become motivated and comfortable using new technology, why is it that we can’t get access to the technology that we need in order to achieve our technology goals? The process to get new hardware is often challenging. Schools with strong Parent Councils are able to bypass the cue and get the most recent technology at a faster rate then other schools.
Our students are “digital natives” and it is about time that we take this fact to heart by changing the way our schools are build, technology is assigned and timetables are created. In my mind, these three issue resonate as the main barriers for better student access to technology.
In our board, a new school was recently built that was given a technology focus from the planning stages. This makes sense. Many of the classrooms are equipped with SmartBoards, laptops, document cameras and other great tools to motivate students and improve student achievement. I recognize that this was an added expense and that the training for the staff has been a huge undertaking. Would it not make sense to have all new schools be developed in this manner? Does it not address the learning needs of our digital natives from the start instead of having to retrofit schools after the fact? Funding for this should be coming directly from the provincial government and should not take away from the board’s existing budget as it would develop a stronger and more technologically proficient work force.
For those schools already built, it is time to bring them up to “digital code” by actually updating technology to a level appropriate for our students. Many times the update cycle is extremely long for our school’s computers and students are using technology that is years out of date. In addition to computers, it is vital that peripherals are included when purchasing new technologies for schools. Instead of spending money on multiple white boards for a classroom, purchase one SmartBoard, a projector (many schools already have enough) and laptop. I would be interested to know that difference in cost as full-sized white boards are fairly pricey. Document cameras should now be the standard instead of purchasing overhead projectors. Quite frankly, overhead projectors scare me.
Finally, staff timetables need to address the need for technology leaders to be given the time to model, teach and assist other teachers in becoming better “digital immigrants.” I love my staff and have the time to help with many of their questions during the school day. Many technology leaders do not have this time and are required to use their preps or interrupt their programs in order to help out. Our ICT Support Teacher is absolutely amazing but they are only one person. Let’s create more of these positions – maybe even one .5 teacher per school.
I appreciate the financial implications to my ideas but feel that if we weren’t up to code in other areas, things would be done to improve it. The rate of change in our school with this issue is too slow when considering the rate at which technology is improving and the demands for this knowledge on our students once they have completed school.
Help is needed. Call the Digital Code inspector.