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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Incorporating Technology in a Limited Tech District?

Incorporating Technology in a Limited Tech District?

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I work in a district where technology is hard to access for several reasons.

1. Access to laptop carts is not often easy.
2. Laptops have frequent problems.
3. Wifi does not work.
4. We don't look at best options.

For example, all students in my wife's elementary school district have a closed network for students to use gmail and google docs. It is something we are not examining in my K-12 district. I am not being a pessimist. I am realistic and honest. I want to incorporate things like have students create prezis, developing PLN's, etc but it doesn't appear feasible all the time. Plus I have students who do not have internet access at home; not many without access, but some.
Ideas?

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Dan Callahan's picture
Dan Callahan
Professional Learning Specialist, Edcamper, Graduate Professor

Hi cwenbass,
First, don't focus on the technology, focus on what you want to accomplish. Then look at ways technology can be incorporated in.

There's some pieces here that would be helpful to know:
1) What age students do you teach and in which subject areas?
2) What do you have access to as a teacher, separate from the laptop cart? Do you have a laptop or a desktop in your classroom? How about a projector? Interactive whiteboard?

(1)
Laura Bradley, MA, NBCT's picture
Laura Bradley, MA, NBCT
Middle school English/Digital Media teacher

Your situation sounds very similar to what mine was just four years ago. I had five ancient desktops in the back of my room, and I finally asked the school to remove them because they just gave us the illusion that we had technology. They so rarely worked that the frustrations weren't worth it.

Then I discovered grants. A local foundation in my town offers generous grants, and that's how I got a full set of laptops for my classroom. I have also had success with smaller grants through Digital Wish (http://www.digitalwish.com/dw/digitalwish/home), Donors Choose (http://www.donorschoose.org/) and Farmers Insurance (https://www.thankamillionteachers.com/submit-a-proposal/). And most communities have businesses willing to make donations to schools.

But I agree with Dan that first you need to figure out why you want the technology and what your students will do with it. I've found that the most critical piece to grant writing is being very clear and specific about how your students will benefit from the grant. Technology alone usually isn't a good enough reason.

Good luck!

(1)
Laura Thomas's picture
Laura Thomas
Director, Antioch University New England Center for School Renewal
Facilitator

Let me just add my voice as the third saying figure out what you want to do and then explore the tech to make it happen. You might want to poke around here a bit to see some of the things other folks are doing. You'll get some good ideas and can contact those folks directly to learn more about the tech they chose and why they chose it. Good luck!

cwenbass's picture

I would love for students just to have access to the internet to research things that interest them. I want students to use computers to generate projects that are a reflection of their own learning interests. i do have a smartboard but I have been stymied yet again. I tried to participate in donation program to get chromebooks but my supervisor said, and I quote, our tech admin. is "paranoid" about using google chrome. This place is insane. I appreciate the feedback. i have begun to tale steps however such as making gmail manadatory for my students this year. I want to start with at least using google docs in class.

Laura Thomas's picture
Laura Thomas
Director, Antioch University New England Center for School Renewal
Facilitator

I'm curious- what is your tech admin worried about, specifically? Privacy concerns? Just generally anti-google?

Laura Thomas's picture
Laura Thomas
Director, Antioch University New England Center for School Renewal
Facilitator

Well, I can't say it surprises me. Google has made it's share of mistakes. Seems a shame to go all baby-with-the-bathwater though.

Laura Bradley, MA, NBCT's picture
Laura Bradley, MA, NBCT
Middle school English/Digital Media teacher

Your situation sounds very similar to what mine was just four years ago. I had five ancient desktops in the back of my room, and I finally asked the school to remove them because they just gave us the illusion that we had technology. They so rarely worked that the frustrations weren't worth it.

Then I discovered grants. A local foundation in my town offers generous grants, and that's how I got a full set of laptops for my classroom. I have also had success with smaller grants through Digital Wish (http://www.digitalwish.com/dw/digitalwish/home), Donors Choose (http://www.donorschoose.org/) and Farmers Insurance (https://www.thankamillionteachers.com/submit-a-proposal/). And most communities have businesses willing to make donations to schools.

But I agree with Dan that first you need to figure out why you want the technology and what your students will do with it. I've found that the most critical piece to grant writing is being very clear and specific about how your students will benefit from the grant. Technology alone usually isn't a good enough reason.

Good luck!

(1)
Dan Callahan's picture
Dan Callahan
Professional Learning Specialist, Edcamper, Graduate Professor

Hi cwenbass,
First, don't focus on the technology, focus on what you want to accomplish. Then look at ways technology can be incorporated in.

There's some pieces here that would be helpful to know:
1) What age students do you teach and in which subject areas?
2) What do you have access to as a teacher, separate from the laptop cart? Do you have a laptop or a desktop in your classroom? How about a projector? Interactive whiteboard?

(1)

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