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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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How Much Does Your School Use Its Technology Pool?: Chances Are, Not Enough

Jim Moulton

Technology Integration and Project-Based Learning Consultant

It is summer, and I am trying to get back to Maine from a conference in Las Vegas. Unfortunately, storms have caused Atlanta's airport to shut down for an hour or so at just the right time to mess up my travel. Ah, well, it is summer, and this is the southeastern United States. Such things happen.

As we circled Atlanta before heading over to Columbus, Georgia, to refuel, I looked down at the houses, highways, and farmlands and noticed one feature of the suburban neighborhoods we were flying over: swimming pools. Behind so many big, brick houses, there were swimming pools, and each looked blue, cool, and inviting.

But I suddenly realized they were all empty. Each one. I said to myself, "Hold it, Jim. Have you ever seen anyone in a swimming pool in any of these neighborhoods you've flown over?" I had to admit I had never seen a single person in a backyard swimming pool -- and I fly a lot.

Conversely, there are pools like the one at the hotel I'm staying at right now as I wait to restart my travel tomorrow. This pool is jammed with what looks like an extended family enjoying a reunion. There are kids and adults playing, talking, jumping, splashing, dunking, floating, throwing balls, and relaxing in deck chairs. They are having a blast and using the dickens out of that pool. What a difference from those beautiful show pools I see in relatively affluent backyards across the United States.

This observation prompted me to compare the use of technology in schools to these swimming pools. Some schools acquire and use technology because of a strong desire to further the knowledge and skills of its students. But if a school implements new technology simply to follow suit with neighboring schools, there is a good chance the technology will be underused like the pools I saw from the air earlier today.

So, here are some questions for you: How much does your school use its technology? Is it in demand like the pool at my hotel -- perhaps even insufficient to meet that demand? Are things just right, with plenty of technology available and widely used across all curriculum areas by students and teachers to support teaching and learning? Or is it like the swimming pools I see in those backyards -- unused because of scheduling challenges, curricular rigidity, or other school-specific issues?

Hey, the water's great. Jump in and let me know what the technology pool is like at your school.

Jim Moulton

Technology Integration and Project-Based Learning Consultant
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Comments (62)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Matthew Higgins's picture

Here at Father Judge high school, the students and teachers have new technology that they can use both inside the classroom and out. Even though the students and teachers can access and use this technology, such as smart boards, new computers, and projectors. On the other hand there are many problems with it just like at every other school. Throughout many classrooms there are smart boards sitting around collecting dust because many teachers have not had them installed or do not know how to use them. The smart boards would help make teaching lessons for teachers easier; therefore, they should take the time to use them. Many of the older teachers at school do not know how to use most of the technology, using lesson plans that are dated. These teachers should take classes on how to use this technology because it will not only help make their lessons better but also make their classes more enjoyable. If schools have the technology to use for their benefit, why not use it!

Ed's picture

I feel that my school use its technology very well and efficient. I think that if you don't have a course that demands computer usage, then you don't use the computers that much, or at all even. I have had classes where I have never been to the computer room for that particular class. This year, however, I have a class that demands computers and I use a computer almost everyday in this class. So I think that the computers in my school could be used a lot more on a monthly or weekly basis for most classes. Another issue with the computers is loging on issues and whether or not they work. Sometimes, on certain days, the computers will not work no matter what you try to do to fix them. I think that we should get a new technology repair worker so that they can get the computers running again. Overall, I think that our computers are averagely used but I think that they can be used much more.

Michael Dempster's picture

While Jim Moulton traveled across the United States, he viewed many pools in which were abandonded. He incorporates an analogy in order to compare empty pools and the use or misuse of technology in schools. Many schools these days ignore the fact that technology strengthens the knowledge and social skills of students. According to this article, these schools would resemble the empty pools that Jim experienced. In my school, the use of technology is popular since we have several rooms filled with computers. However, there has been several incidents in which I couldn't access these computers. Overall, I think that my school advanteougsly uses its technology.

Brendan Nahill's picture

Technolgy in my school varies between each grade and for different caliber of students. For instance, if your in your freshman year you probably will not use a computer the whole except for typing papers, which is usually done at home for most students. The same thing goes for sophomores who usually have one paper a quater to write in which they usually type at home. Now for the juniors and seniors the technology use picks up a little for each student is required to a computer course such as Java, Microsoft Computer Hardware, or Computer Applications. I am not saying the students are capable of being computer engineers from high school , but they do recieve a well adequate background in computer knowledge in which they can futher their careers in college. Overall the technology use in my school is not advanced enough where every student is on a computer 6 hours a day, yet it is still efficient in letting the students get a background in computers.

Oleh's picture

My school has pretty good amount of computers. In library there are about 30 computers, and we have about 3 more classes with computers only. I could say this computers are pretty old and slow, but it is fine to do things for school like typing a paper or doing some simple programming in Java. Every year I can see that teachers are more tending to use Internet and computers for educational purposes. So, I beleive that my school uses just enough technology as of today, but in the future if school wants to offer more advanced courses, such as video editing or architecture, the faster and better computers will be neeeded.

Eric Murray's picture

I believe my school uses its technology properly, but does not have the right amount of computers and other technology for everyone. Everyday, classes are going to one of the computer labs or the library, so that their students can work on projects and other school work. However, a teacher may not just go to the labs anyday they want. They sign up for the lab first and if another teacher signed up before them, then they have to wait. Before and after school, the library is open to anyone who wants to work on any schoolwork. Sometimes, all of the computers are taken and one has to wait for a computer to become available. Many teachers also use smartboards and powerpoints to teach, rather just reading from a textbook. The use of smartboards and powerpoints usually makes the class more interesting and easier to understand.

Genti Shatri's picture

At my school, I believe that use of technology is going up exponentially. Recently in my computer lab, the old computers are being replaced by new computers which show the need of advancement of technology for further use. The computers and technology may not be top of the line but it's sufficient for the educational purposes that are needed. Technologies like computers are very important in school whether it is used for writing papers or looking for information online for a project, computers are essential in school. Also in my theology class, our teacher gave us a flip camera to use for a presentation on certain topics to discuss in the class. Technology is being used more as an educational tool and will become an important part in school education.

Robert Crossley's picture

At my school, technology is used very widely. I am currently sitting in 5th period, a programming class. As I look around the room I see over 30 out of date computers. Then I look to the back and I notice a stack of computers and monitors. These new computers will replace the out of date models in the room. After the replacement of these computers, every lab in my school will be equip with updated functional computers including the school Libray. This is just one example of how my school implements computers. My school also has several smart boards, and a projector in every class room. We are an advanced school with improvements always on the way.

Tyler Cameron's picture

At Father Judge, we are lucky enough to have an ample amount of projectors, computers, televisions. On top of these basic technologies, we also have a supply of smart boards, used by a small handful of the teachers literate in this technology. For the most part, the projectors and computers are thoroughly used by the teachers with transparencies, power point projects, word documents, etc. However, it would be quite beneficial if more teachers became familiar with the use of smart boards because they are quite supplementary to a lesson plan. With various computer classes offered, including JAVA, computer apps, and computer maintenance and repair, we frequently use the supply of computers every day. Overall, the use of computers, televisions, projectors, and smart boards in the school is germane to almost every class in the day, and we take advantage of our abundant supply of technology.

Kristopher Castro's picture

My school is pretty up-to-date with their technology. While some of our TVs and computers are several years old, we still try to keep our software and other technology as modern as possible. We have at least one computer in every classroom, with several labs filled wall-to-wall with computers. Some teachers opt not to use technology as much as others, and that is understandable because computers aren't as necessary to the curriculum of some subjects as they are to others. However, other teachers try to have us use the computers as much as possible. Last year, my English teacher had us type up a paper almost every night. This year, our physics teacher has us use the computers in the lab once a week. So, I would say that the computers at this school are very accessible, however they are not very in demand. I think that everything works out fine, with some teachers using the technology as much as possible, and others using it as sparingly as they can.

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