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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
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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.

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Jim Moulton

Technology Integration and Project-Based Learning Consultant

Comments (62) Sign in or register to comment Follow Subscribe to comments via RSS

briankelly818's picture

I believe schools try their best to use the simple technology they have as opposed to something brand new and complicated. The personnel in these schools would rather have something they can quickly find out how to work and feel confident when they use them. I feel that more people do not like the new more complicated technology because they have to take time out of their lives to learn how to work with it and still may not fully understand it when they go to use it.

Francis DeMuro's picture

I believe my school does a good job in providing technology for the both the students and the teachers. I do believe in our case the system is just right. Teachers whose courses do not require a computer to teach have the option to sign up for one of the computer labs for a specific period. Confliction rarely occurs and when it does the teachers usually settle the issue accordingly. My school also has provided a resource center and a library with a sufficient number of computers to meet the needs of the students. Aside from the labs each classroom is provided with one computer where the teacher has the oppurtunity to use the projector for slide shows, videos, and other useful teaching tools. I believe the techonolgy of the school gets the job done with not much trouble. I also like how the school doesn't let the technology overshadow conventional teaching methods. Instead the technology is used as a "vaction" from these methods and is thus appreciated more throughout the school.

Damien Turchi's picture

A multitude of uses of technology is incorporated into our school. They teach programming, computer maintenance, basic understanding, and many other technology courses here.
Our pool is filled much more than the average school, we take the utmost advantage of our technology. By incorporating technology so much the students here are better prepared for the modern world than if they were not educated in technology. Other schools should involve technology similar to the way mine does. If all schools do this our world would have much more people of whom are coherent in these matters.
I believe my school lives up to the quote, "Some schools acquire and use technology because of a strong desire to further the knowledge and skills of its students," because the teachers at Father Judge are very inclined to allow the students to recieve the maximum education in the field. They know the subject matter of computers like the back of their hands when teaching, and therefore, make the student get a full appreciaiton of what they are learning.

Colin Sulpizio's picture

My school, in my point of view, uses its technology pool to its advantage pretty well. First off, many of the classes use the computers to their advantage, either for actual computer classes, or to book a date for a teacher to allow their students to work on a project or learn an interactive lesson. It also helps as a whole with the networking system, allowing students, teachers, and administration to contact eachother through e-mail. Next, the library has a very good system of keeping their books and book holders in line. Also, even through experience, some teachers use the internet and videos from it to help teach their lessons. The scantrons allow multiple choice tests and quizzes to be graded in a matter of seconds rather than going through each answer of every student individually. Without our technology pools the school would not run as smoothly in my opinion.

Kamil Przychodzien's picture

I believe my school uses the technology the have available properly, by offering classes filled with computers so that students can work on projects and assignments. Many teachers use smart boards and power points to teach, to help the students to understand the topic better, rather than from a textbook. The use of these brilliant pieces of equipments makes the class more interesting and more understandable. My school, Father Judge, offers classes with the uses of technology daily such as: Java Programming and Computer Applications. So I believe that Father Judge's technology use is just like the swimming pool in the hotel. The school has technology and everybody puts the technology into positive uses.

Brian McAdams's picture
Brian McAdams
comment on an article

i completly agree with you. but the main problem with the schools getting technology is that they got it so fast that they didn't figure out how they should use it once they got it. most computer labs are strictly used for online research and writing papers and presentations. but many don not know how to fix a faulty program or deal with other computer problems. i have an old PC at home and it requires so much maintanance that almost everyone in my family knows almost everyting about windows xp, but at school, im constantly asked by people around how to fix a program or how do i make a chart? schools would get more use from computers by just offering basic computer skill courses.

jmckinstry11's picture

I have a mixed decision on how well our school uses its technology pool. I beleive that they spend the money to get the correct equiptment, but the upkeep and maintenence in very poor. A majority of the time something is wrong with at least 1 of the networks, or the printers dont work, or we are unable to get onto the internet. This gts extremely frustrating especially when you need to be able to print out a project for a class you have next period and the computers don't work and you lose credit. Therefore i believe that our school utilizes its technology oppurtunities correctly, but fails to maintain efficiency.

connor thompson's picture

My school invested in smart boards a few years to i guess update its technology and better the education of the students with more helpfull tools of learning. However, rarley do i see theses smart boards put to use and about 90 percent of the time i see them sitting in the back of a class gathering dust. Twice a year we have open houses and on those days the smart boards are up and running and emphisising the great technology 'used' daily in the school. After the open house is over the boards are quickly placed back in the corner to perform its duty assigned by the school of wasting our tution money once more.
I find that my school has trouble moving into the new technology age, and is steadily falling behind the advancements being made by other schools. The teachers are happy with their style of teaching and believe they way they learned how to teach many years ago is still best for us. Instead of using the internet, or making power points, their confident reading from the text book and giving papers is the best way to teach us. Of course this s always with the exception of a few advanced teachers. Another problem i have with the way our school continues to be the 'show pool' is that there has been talk of a science building for years and still no improvement or advancement on it. It bedgan as an idea for a new state of the art building only for science, and has since changed to an old warn out priest building partially turning into a science wing. For now, my school is only a nice pool for every1 to look at but isnt utilized like the pool inside the hotel

Chris Dempsey's picture

I beleive our school does not use their technology to the fullest. We do not have enough people staffed to help fix the computers, which break extremely often. Our computers are not maintenances enough and is clearly notices through the rapid shut down of internet all throughout the school. Also, we have had new computers for many days and they have no been installed. Computers seem to not be very important to our school and do not find many ways to be fit into our school's budget. Also we have several smart boards throughout the school. Two of them are in my classes alone. They are very helpful but are not hooked up to the computer and the projector so they are now useless. This just shows the low priority technology has in our school that they can have such good appliances but do not care enough to actually apply them.

J.B. Kinser's picture
J.B. Kinser
Fourth grade teacher in Sheffield Village, Ohio

The technology that is most used in my building is the SmartBoard. Each teacher in the building has one and uses it to varying degrees of proficiency. Many of us use the technology to give lessons, show streaming videos, or edit work with the students. A few teachers also have video overhead machines (ELMO machines). I love technology and cant stop yearning for the next device I can introduce into my class. Each student uses a netbook computer with a wireless router in the room. I co-teach with the intervention specialist in an inclusion room. We each have iPads that we use for reading and math supplemental activities. The iPads are also helpful recording devices for reading websites that help show growth in fluency and comprehension, i.e. AIMSWEB. Starting soon we will be using handheld portable GPS units to introduce the students to latitude, longitude, and the features of our district that make it unique compared to other parts of the county. I am lucky to work in a district that understands the important role of technology in today's schools and works hard to earn grant money to get the resources that teachers need into the classroom.

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