George Lucas Educational Foundation
Teacher Leadership

How Much Does Your School Use Its Technology Pool?: Chances Are, Not Enough

    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.

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    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.