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I recently read your article on the technology you used in your classroom. I'm a firm believer that technology is needed for students to progress in their current and future educational experiences. My question, do you know of any grants or programs that would help me (for myself and my campus) get ELMO's and projectors for our classrooms?
I am a great fan of technology as a tool in the classroom. However, when it comes to mandates in education, remember that they must be funded. Current problems with technology integration that I experience either directly or through observation of my fellow teachers are many.
1) Teachers are very often not given enough time to learn how to use the technology. A 1-3 hour training session that ends with "play around with it" is not suficient. Who has time, when we have several new programs, new pieces of equipment as well as lessons to plan and students to teach? Oh, and family obligations.
2) Adequate technology support is an absolute must. Develop the lessons, prepare to use them and then have something go wrong. Then wait from days to weeks and sometimes months for the problem to be dealt with within your organization's system. Or, get most of the components for a system and then be told you are out of money until next year. My personal favorite is when they don't order cords longer than 10 feet or a piece of furniture for the equipment to sit on. Or how about an extention cord? Speakers? Headsets? Mice? And what about bandwidth. Try having 22 8-year-olds in the computer lab and the response time within a program is minutes.
3) Not all teachers, much less all children have access to affordable high speed internet.Those of you who live in metropolitan areas, please remember that there are those of us in rural areas that have to suffer with dial-up. I have students who can't afford a t.v., much less a computer and peripherials. And theiir parents are not able to troubleshoot for them.
4) Virtual manipulatives do not give the same experience as real manipulatives. Virtual worlds do not yet appeal to more than two senses. Our students need to experience the world through all five.
These are just a few of the problems facing teachers I know. We all want to do more to prepare out students for life in a world of technology, but I'm afraid that not everyone is looking at the problem from the same angle. We have come very far, very fast, but we still have a long way to go.
During my tenure as an elementary teacher, I intergated technology into the curriculum. I also mentored teachers in my campus and was a previous Technology Coordinator in our district. During the school years, 1994-2005, my students not only posted their work on the web, but also did presentations using the skills they had acquired in technology (such as Hyper-Studio, Web Pages, PowerPt, using the internet)for the Socorro ISD, the University of TX in El Paso and at the International Technology Conference in San Francisco, CA. These students are now attending school at various Universities, and continue using their technology skills/knowlege they learned while in my classroom in the 3rd/4th/5th grade. I am a firm believer in schools requiring students to use technology and teachers at all grade levels integrating technology into the curriculum.
(See Edutopia Fall 1999 magazine) and UTEP NOVA Magazine UTEP GRADs:Preparing)
Bill Sybert School
El Paso, Texas 79936
What I see as an educator is that given the opportunity through adequate resources, innovative instruction and appropriate support for development of self-efficacy, there is not a need to mandate technology use for students or teachers. Technology is an interesting and welcome component of the instructional mix.
Teachers have complex and competing priorities with increasing restrictions and requirements that stifle their ability to implement innovations. Lack of choice in designing instruction is increasing in the current climate, mandating is the method of implementation that is most often the default. Unfortunately mandates are not always supported by resources and again teachers are put into the difficult position of meeting unrealistic requirements while attempting to create innovative learning environments comprised of multiple modes of instruction. Not surprisingly, teachers resist and become jaded when additional mandates, however well-intentioned, are implemented.
Moving from mandated to motivated is the challenge for supporting expanded technology implementation in the classroom.
As someone who has spoken with hundreds of teachers and parents about these matters and as the mother of two daughters, one of whom was in a school that required individual laptops for each child starting in 5th grade, to be used in school and out, I have a bird's eye view of some of the essential facts around media and technology use.
One of them is: personal storytelling is an antidote to the story being told by the popular culture. Allowing the child access to the family and community's oral tradition and the time and space to sense who they are, what their story is, is the best preparation for them to effectively use the amazing tool that technology surely is.
Mary L. Rothschild, Director
Healthy Media Choices
Brooklyn, New York 11201
Brattleboro, Vermont 05301
Host: "How Are the Children?"
WVEW-LP 107.7 FM
streaming at www.wvew.org
Tuesday at 1 pm
Yes teachers should require the use of technology. It is part of the standards in my state and many others. Technoogy while a tool is also a valuable resource that most students will use to a greater degree in the future.
There is no doubt that we are amidst the age of technology and it seems that students in the First World are more adept at it than adults. But what if the classroom or school doesn't have access to technology? I think there should be a balance.
Technology should not be the center of education but a tool that can enhance learning. As a teacher, I have used technology for certain topics. But it was not a necessity for my students. What I wanted them to do was communicate -- and not just through email or power point. They used their words and their creativity.
Amen, sister! I'm enrolled in three technology-based classes this summer - MediaBlender: Project-Based Learning with Multimedia, Movie Maker: Digital Video in the Classroom, and Photoshop Elements: Digital Imaging in the Classroom - in order to create some lessons that bring the teaching of reading and writing into this century. My only concern: lack of computers in the school and lack of computers at home for the vast majority. What a drag. It could be so exciting and one can easily predict student interest and involvement. Sure wish the business world would understand the situation of limited budgets in the schools and lend a hand. We're teaching their future employees. A friend's husband works at a large insurance company in the area. He scratched his Blackberry, reported it to the company, and Sha-Zam! New Blackberry! If only ...
8th grade Language Arts teacher - Madison, Wisconsin
Technology is just another tool as are pencils, books, etc. Students need to learn all tools to communicate in the world. We teach them music, art, languages for similar reasons. Students need to be completely well rounded and know how to function in the world. We cannot keep our students from using technology because we don't want to use technology.
I am probably in a very unique situation. Most of my children have no contact with computers outside school. There is almost no access to the internet. I had only one child in my class last year with a home e-mail address. In a situation like this, it would be ridiculous to require students to complete assignments on the computer.
At school we have access to many wonderful pieces of technology, such as ActivBoards, school pads, etc. However, a student's access to a computer is actually less than it was 10 years ago. We are down to 2 computers and 1 teacher laptop at most in each classroom. Many classrooms only have 1 computer and 1 teacher laptop. Students are taken to the computer lab for 35 minutes once a week, but that isn't enough time to get much accomplished. Schools need to have a great deal more technology available, before students are required to complete assignments using technology.