We hear lots of conversation about EdTech and 21st Century Skills and needing to make sure our students are “future-ready.” But what are we really doing to make that happen? And who ultimately makes that decision?
This week in the #EduMatch Voxer group we engaged in some lively discussion about tech in schools started by a fabulous question posed by Dr. Will: What is the push back about when teachers are told to use technology in their classrooms? So many folks chimed in – teachers, tech coaches, administrators. And more than answers, we raised more questions: Ultimately who makes the decision to integrate tech? Is it a district mandate or principal directive and all must follow? Or does the teacher have choice in whether to integrate or utilize technology? AND what is the role of the admin/tech coach – giving directives or convincing the teacher it’s worth the time and effort? This topic was so engaging that Sarah has scheduled an EduMatch Tweet N Talk to discuss this on January 3rd at 6pm EST.
Of the many points raised in this conversation one in particular struck me and inspired this post. Do our children have access to a level playing field when it comes to technology? Thank you to Dr. Dorian Roberts for raising this very important point. There is a divide – a line of the haves and have nots – when it comes to educational technology. State to state, district to district and sometimes even schools within the same district have a wide disparity in what is available. Sometimes is even in the same school – one teacher might have an interactive whiteboard and 1-1 devices for students when other classrooms do not have access to these tools. And this is a problem that our educational system needs to address.
But I want to take this a step further and tie it back to our original question.
Are we letting students down when we don’t integrate technology effectively into their learning?
Students in classrooms where teachers integrate technology effectively are exposed to multiple devices, platforms, apps and software. Students are problem solving, working at their own pace, connecting with others beyond the walls of the school, learning to stay focused in the face of distractions, working collaboratively and often have control over the pace and mode of their learning and how they demonstrate their learning. They are developing those 21st Century Skills that will serve them well in jobs that have not yet been invented. In education we always hear how we need to prepare these students for these future jobs that haven’t been thought of – that industry and manufacturing jobs, the sit-and-follow-directions type of jobs are not the majority of what our students will encounter. They will be asked to submit proposals, solve problems, implement and adjust solutions based on feedback. These are the kinds of things our students need exposure to in our K-12 system.
So is it fair that students in one class are exposed to and developing these skills while others are not? Why does one group of children deserve this advantage and not all?
In some of our schools we are beginning a 1-1 implementation in a few classrooms. These teachers have taken on the leadership role in their school and are committing to PD and to changing their practice. Is this only creating more inequity in our schools?
I don’t have the answers – I’d be a rich lady if I did! I do think it’s time we ask these tough questions, begin the conversation and start to work on the answers.