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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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Advocating for Technology Integration in Schools

Heather Wolpert-Gawron

Middle School teacher by day, Tweenteacher by night

In the weeks leading up to the presidential election, the Obama campaign talked the talk, proving that educational technology was on its radar. But if you've been listening, the silence on technology integration in our schools has since become deafening.

You know when you own a house and the pipes are old and they start to break down and rust? You'd invest in copper pipes, right? Well technology is the copper pipes of education. It might take money to invest in the future of the home, but it's what you have to do if you're looking toward the future. Years down the line, you want your home to have some value and to be able to compete in a future real estate market. OK, the metaphor went a little haywire, but you get the idea.

Just to give you a little background, the federal EETT (Enhancing Education Through Technology) program dictated that a fraction of the education monies from Washington was to go specifically toward technology.

But in a world of words such as billions and trillions, EETT could only boast millions. In fact, 2004 saw only $692 million dedicated to technology. Under the Bush administration, as of 2008, that number was bled down to $276 million.

But this bloodletting of our students' futures led to many grassroots battles from the classroom trenches. And, as a result, the new recovery package for 2010 is slated to bring the EETT back up to $650 million.

Don't celebrate. Sure, it is double what it had become, but we shouldn't cheer for having brought it back up to a still-inadequate level.

If you believe that technology integration must be included in the future of education, you can no longer "just be a teacher." You are now a member of a special-interest group. And that group must become more powerful, using our abilities -- and, incidentally, the standards -- to write persuasively, blog honestly, petition relentlessly, and not give in to those who believe technology is a fad or an ineffective strategy that merely claims to raise student achievement.

So here's an easy method of lobbying I recently learned about:

  • Go to ETAN (EdTechActionNetwork).
  • Type in your ZIP code, and a list of your local or state representatives will appear.
  • Scroll down to Take Action and sign the letter. Better yet, change the subject line, or any of the text that you choose, and personalize your letter.
  • Select whether you want it sent via email or snail mail, and submit. You also can click on My New Widget in My Sidebar.

ETAN takes care of the rest. All you've done is made sure your opinion is being counted. Join, and you'll get an email reminder about various issues as they arise in Washington.

Help inundate the representatives who work for us with your opinions so they'll raise up technology in schools from the bottom of the priority list to the top. They may not read all the opinions, but they do count. Remember, our representatives want to make their constituents happy. Show them just how unhappy some Web-surfing teachers can be. Politicians speak the language of the number of complaints they receive. Let your opinion be counted.

Heather Wolpert-Gawron

Middle School teacher by day, Tweenteacher by night
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Comments (31)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Albert Beierle's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I have for many years been a proponent for use of technology in the classroom. I am currently a student at Walden University and have finally managed to arrange my life to the point where I can work on my Master's Degree. I chose the degree program at Walden 6 years ago because of the promise the program held. It's title, "Integrating Technology in the K-12 Classroom" seemed to me to be intriguing then but necessary now. I teach at a small private school in the Silicon Valley. We are blessed with more computers than children presently. The students come to school with advanced keyboarding and computer skills. It is expected that we will be using the computers and the internet as tools as many of their parents work in this field and expect that their children will follow suit. It is an exciting age to be teaching in. I am enjoying the many opportunities that this technology affords and looking forward to learning to use more. However, I realize that as with anything this tool is just a tool not the answer to all the differing needs of the classroom student. The advantage this technology affords to leave the confines of the textbook, is wonderful and I continue to enjoy finding ways to unite the traditional curriculum with the enhancements this technology provides. Exciting times are here!

Albert Beierle, Upper Grades teacher, Mission Hills Christian School-Fremont, CA

Darlene Morrison's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Hello Albert,

Sounds like you are in a great working environment and certainly one that is supportive of your goals. Unfortunately, many of us do not have the conveniences like yourself. I work in a Title I school where there are many problems with students from low-income families, special needs, and extremely low budget.

I wanted to respond to your comments because I am also a student at Walden, working on my dissertation. I wanted to reach out to experience professionals who like myself are targeting technology as a topic. My topic is Empowering Teachers to use Internet access to create effective classroom instruction. If possible, would you have any research I can locate as to this topic or suggestions?

Your cooperation would be greatly appreciated. You can email me your comments.

Thanks,

yolette p's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

What Roberta said about her students using the cell phone to take pictures of the agenda and texting notes is an example of why certain bans should be lifted on cell phone use. It just proves that students will create positive ways to use the technology if given an opportunity. I think that is awesome Roberta. What does your administration think about what your student are doing with their cell phones?

Brandy Rainey's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I just want to know where is this money is coming from? Our state keeps cutting the budgets, which in turn cuts programs and then jobs. I understand the need for new ideas in the classroom, but I want to make sure I have a classroom. Where is Obama going to get the money to fuel the tech programs? Why is is such a small amount? Why in a failing economy where some people don't even have a job to put food on the table can he give us more money for technology? I am in a graduate program promoting technology, but I just think he needs to realine the money and give education more money in general. Which would give us more money for all programs and we could keep our jobs.

Jonas's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Melissa,

I am currently a student at Walden pursing a degree in Intergrating Technology as well. I also started this program in hopes of gaining new ideas and techniques of integrating technology that could benefit my students, who are living in this ever growing technological world. I have found many barriers in my district that have not allowed me to use some of the ideas I have. We have limited resources which can be very frustrating. Like you mentioned, the world is becoming more and more dependant on technology and it is our job as educators to prepare our students for life. I would like to see more money issued for the advancement of technology in the classroom. I know money is tight with the state of the economy, but if our students are ill-prepared for the world, how will they compete when it is time for them to find a job? Technology is here now and will be here forever. We just need to find the resources and money to make it a reality in all school districts.

Jonas Westmont Middle School 5th Grade Johnstown, PA

Tara Minnerly's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I have seen a lot of interesting lessons with cell phones including using them for peer revising and editing where students text their drafts to each other. The district I teach in also has a strict policy on cell phones. I'm a little nervous posting this with my name on it, but I would love to get tips on challenging a policy like this. There seems to be such a fear of technology. Instead of ignoring the it, we should be embracing it!

suzi4411's picture

Yes Amy, I too am working on the tech integration. I was highly disappointed that as I was looking for financial aid that our master's tech integration was not covered under federal grants. How can Obama's administration speak of a student technology future without funding teachers who want the training and skills to integrate in their rooms?

suzi4411's picture

Jason, I too am fed up with the students arguing with me. When did teachers loose the respect and the authority to enforce the rules?

April Whitstone's picture
April Whitstone
4th Grade ELA/SS Teacher

Ok, I LOVE the lesson plan ideas for utilizing cell phones in class. Another RLA idea would be to have students rewrite texts, translating netlingo into standard english sentences. Furthermore, I worked with teens at our church and the audible sighs after asking students to turn off their cell phones were positively deafening. One week I decided to use a free texting program on the internet to pose an opening question that Wednesday night. The question was projected on the screen and students were encourage to text their response to the assigned number. As the texts rolled in, they dropped and bounced on the screen, adding to the excitement. Discussion followed in the form of additional texted (and some highly vocal) responses. These students were so engaged, I had to wonder why I hadn't done this before! At the school I will be working this year, students are expected to complete short "bellwork" assignments as they enter the room and begin to focus on the day's content. I would love to integrate this technology (despite cell phone policies) based on my experience. I hope to pitch the idea of "acceptable use" citing technology integration as my reasoning. After all, the majority of the school's pops are BE/ESL, of which about 60% have computers at home, but 99% have cell phones at school!

Ashley Joseph's picture
Ashley Joseph
Director , ASHBIKTRIOS PVT LTD , INDIA

We are a group of young men from India whose mission is to bring cost effective cutting technology tools to rural India . Ours is a very ambitious project . We found that there is so much of money spent by schools to upgrade technology but there is hardly a followup on upgrading the teachers skill level to utilize the technology to the fullest. We are concentrating more into training the teachers to handle technology tools for teaching.

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