Friday, April 30, 2010

Technolgy (Those Wonderful Toys.)

The problems with technology in schools start with its cost and a lack of intelligent implementation backed by science. It gets worse in that the purchase, support and decision-making are so fragmented.

The faculty end-users are usually not familiar enough with the products to be able to determine absolutely what they need or to determine the difference between a name brand (like Smart) and the generics which are often 1/3 the price. Most haven't used them much before getting them - at least not in any meaningful way. SO someone will scrape enough department budget money together to get one and then the teacher will leave it in the corner of his room propped against a filing cabinet because "he doesn't have time to learn how to use it" or "I'd need hours to set it up."

The tech brats might know what's best but don't ever ask the teachers for a list of needs. They couldn't be bothered to figure out for themselves which board is optimal. They're mostly interested in making their own job as easy as possible, meaning that standardization is a higher priority than cost or ease of of use. Laziness and a willingness to cry "I'm so busy" are the primary reasons. They also don't mind a 6 foot SmartBoard being unusable for an entire year because of a faulty cable. Fixing the obvious problem is not their concern - they acquired it, that's enough.

The financial people who authorize have no clue either. To them, it's a board that you "tap" to go to the next slide.

The administration who demands "more tech because I think it sounds cool" are no help. They like IWBs because the district tech person can stand by the board and tap it to get to the next slide. "We're high-tech here." So they fiddle with discretionary spending and equip a conference room off the main office with one that no one else may use. Maybe they'll put a couple into select brown-noser rooms to show how forward-thinking they are. At which point, the teachers use it as a projection screen.

The salesmen con the community into thinking it's for the good of the children and will "build learning opportunities for the digital natives, don't ya know" and the irony of the marching band equipment salesman takes another bump.

Meanwhile, those who might make something out of it continue with whatever old technology they could scrounge from what was lying around and are doing just fine, thank you.

But. What I could do with one ...

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