I have been following with interest Dan Meyer’s blog (http://blog.mrmeyer.com/) post “Harder than you think”. Being the school tech guy I should be all pro-tech and a believer in the more the merrier. Prior to becoming the tech guy I was, afterward, not so much. I just see so much of it purchased without a plan for its use. Many people, and administrators seem to have this the worst, believe in the “buy it and they will come” philosophy. To incorporate tech into the classroom, be it something as simple(?) as a Smartboard or something as methodology shaking as an iPad, takes time and planning. It takes time in several aspects. Time for the teacher to place the tech into their curriculum and methodology, and time for the techie to make sure everything works seamlessly. The teacher is comfortable with their old methodology and their pedagogy is based around what they have been doing for years. As soon as that tech does not integrate seamlessly it is going on the shelf. I know my teachers simply do not have the time to waste in getting some piece of tech to work in the middle of a lesson. The slightest hang-up and that tech is on the shelf and will probably stay there. A lot of these hang-ups can be prevented with proper training, but training is another thing that takes time. My school presently trying to train teachers on our early out day a couple of times a month. By the time the staff is collected the training time is about 35 minutes. And teachers are worse than kids to get to be quiet in class. When introducing something as play changing and as expensive as iPads then the training should be something like two weeks in the summer to include curriculum/pedagogy rewriting along with simple device training. Simply finding apps that work and are worth the interruption that tech involves takes time. The training has to convince teachers that the tech will improve their ability to communicate concepts to their student and not just be another way of doing the same thing. The summer training will also give the techie support people time to troubleshoot in an active environment and come up with solutions to problems. Now the school is not only buying expensive tech but paying teachers to come in for training. Tech is expensive.
Now comes the question – is tech in the classroom worth the price? I am not talking about teaching technology, but teaching with technology. Is teaching math with iPads apps any better than teaching math with a piece of chalk? Are we getting better understanding, better graduation rates, better college attendance numbers and better college completion numbers? Considering almost everything in the world is becoming tech based teaching with technology is teaching technology. Kids need to learn how to troubleshoot technology just to survive in the job world. Is it possible the future of education is not math, English, history, etc. as it has been for the last 100 years or so? Is the tech revolution going to require a complete revamping of how AND what we teach? Is it possible that those teachers that are putting the tech on the shelf because it is interrupting their content teaching are going the wrong way? Is it possible that teaching content with tech more important than teaching content? Educational heresy! I do not have enough brain cells to argue that one way or the other.