Thursday, June 21, 2007

Let them Bring It!

I am an avid reader of the GLEF website and newsletter. The newsletter I got today had two great articles in it. One of them reminded me of an idea that I have about how to change the funding for technology in schools. I have shared it with a few of my colleagues (most who say it will never work) and it sounds a bit crazy, but it just might get us moving ahead at a faster pace with technology.

What if... we let the students who "have" bring the technology in...and then focus our efforts as a school district on funding technology for those who "have not." In my past experience of being a Palm Education Training Coordinator, I remember hearing Elliott Soloway talk at a conference about the fact that the reason handhelds in education work so well with students is because students take personal ownership of them. I believe he mentioned that in his Detroit Inner-City Handheld Project he only had 5% loss. Amazing!! GLEF asked students what they wanted to see in the classroom and they listed the following; laptops, blue tooth technology, cell phones, digital cameras, graphing calculators, Nintendo DS, video cameras, flash drives, universal remotes, iPods and SIMS (full article). Don't students have many of these items at home, probably even their own? How many of you work in places where these items have been banned?!

Of course, this idea would take some planning and policy setting, however, I think sometimes we make it more complicated than it needs to be. I would like to quote a colleague of mine, a high school principal, on the topic of allowing iPods and cell phones in school, "there are 150 ways students can do damage with a pencil, but we seem to have be able to get that under control so why not technology?!"

The difference with technology is that it is changing all the time...changes make people uneasy. Compared to technology, the changes a pencil has seen in the last 100+ years are relatively simple. Why we don't limit students to only yellow #2 pencils anymore? More importantly, don't we let students bring pencils to school?

To appreciate the difficulty that teachers face when presented with the idea of changing their pedagogy to be problem-based, student centered with technology infused as a tool, take a minute and read Jim Moulton's blog entry about change! It should humble you and help you appreciate what we are asking teachers to do, and if nothing else, it should make you chuckle!

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