Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Local School Gets Thrilling New Technology…Now What?

by Jason Scott

“Local School gets (Insert New Technology of the Moment)” is the kind of story that local papers love. I just Googled the phrase “Local School Gets New Technology” and got 194,000,000 hits. Even in this tough economy, new classroom technology stories are everywhere.

Here in Delaware,
we just read about St. Elizabeth’s High School’s a new iPad lab, and this school in Knoxville, Tennessee, is requiring all enrolled students to have an iPad beginning next year. For the record, Webb School of Knoxville is a $12,700 a year private school so purchasing an iPad is probably not an unrealistic expectation. Parents also have the option of leasing the iPad from the school for $20 per month. Education Market Research projects that spending on school technology will increase by an average of 6% this year, so these stories may be even more common in 2011.

For the most part, these types of stories all seem pretty similar: a) New Technology coming to School X. b) Students and teachers are excited by new technology c) Discussion of how the thrilling new technology enhances our future competiveness with other countries.

What the stories leave out, and something I’d be curious to read about is the 24-month follow-up. What happened after the initial thrill of the new technology wore off? Did the teachers get fully trained on how to make the most out of the technology? Did the exciting new technology of the moment fit into and work with the students’ daily routines? Or did the technology that everyone was so excited about last year quietly get stored away in the back closet only to be trucked out for PR purposes.

I don’t mean to sound like a skeptical old codger because I think some of the classroom technology rolled out—even in the past year—is amazing. Prestwick House released its first IPad App this year.

I am as excited about the possibilities of the new technology as anybody. I’d simply appreciate reading the follow-up stories about classroom technology: Stories that take us beyond the initial opening day anticipation and thrill of beginning a new adventure. Stories written, perhaps, from the teacher’s perspective, not the district superintendent’s.

What are your experiences? Have you been trained on new technology in your school?

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