Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Technology in education

AprilMay posted about use of technology in education and it has raised alot of things that I deal with on a daily basis with technology, and have dealt with for several years.

At my last school, mysteriously some departments would get laptops and projectors. While the math teachers were still teaching in rooms set up for science labs and the rest of us were sharing sluggish iMacs, a select few were mysteriously granted these items. In the interest of being professional, it never managed to come up as a problem. After all, it's nice that at least someone in the school got to use technology. The rest of us tried to suss out space in one of the labs, a total of I believe just over 100 computers total to be used by a school with just shy of 3000 students. All bets were off when state testing started until they scrounged enough computers to make a lab exclusively for testing.

In teaching, survival is the way. We learn to make due with what we have and eventually even the whiniest teacher learns that they will be happier if they just forget about it. But when I went looking for a new job, in interviews someone literally rolled their eyes at me when I told them the extent of my internet use in the classroom was having kids make a powerpoint out of drugs that they researched. I redeemed myself slightly by telling them that the information they used to research was hand picked and loaded onto a portal I created, but generally speaking they were entirely underwhelmed with the breadth of my integration of technology.

However when the time was for me to ask them questions, I asked them if they had any projectors to facilitate the use of computer instruction in the classroom. They did have one. The high school shared it with the district office and it could be checked out by the Human Resources person. I tried to choke down my snort.

So now at my new school, I can pretty much use laptops with wireless internet everyday should I want. They also have a bunch of programs for podcasting and whatnot. And the question is not getting technology, but what to do with it once we have it.

At AprilMay I learned that my reluctance to allow my kids to use Google Image searches is justified, as some districts block it altogether. And while I understand the blocking of YouTube, there is some really good content there mixed in with the pornography. Yes, it should be blocked. But if only there was a way to get the good videos while leaving the bad. Have learned how to capture these videos to .flv format, but then need software I don't have to get them into a format that will play on Mac.

There are alternate sites. But for my ELL kids, at least at the outset they are like thick forests where information is allegedly hidden and navigating to it is a little less than intuitive. And sometimes, too often, nothing pops up. For example, nothing about Cesar Chavez or the Aztecs on teachertube, and nothing about other wierd subjects my kids need like "habitat of the quetzal" or "the battle of Puebla".

iMovies are hot with my kids. Strangely enough though, all I have seen anyone do with them is make glorified slideshows with a customized soundtrack. I can do that in Keynote/Powerpoint.

It is interesting, everyone wants teachers to know about technology, but it is generally out of reach, and teachers are likely to be edged out by others with the money to have had a chance at access. Digital divide among teachers as well.

It is hard for me to not wonder why Intel and Apple aren't doing more to equip the educators that are going to help open doors for kids, and not the ones who just messed with it till they figured it out. I know there are a few programs, having participated in "Teach to the Future with Intel" (I received a PC for my classroom which was "absorbed" by the administration 2 years later--heard enough stories about teachers writing grants for technology which districts then utilized for their own purposes. Waiting to hear "Why don't the teachers write grants?" so that they can be reminded of why).

What are your all technology stories?

1 comment:

Glen Woods said...

When I was a high school student we were required to take one computer course. In the course we were required to write a program in BASIC. There was one computer in the computer lab. 30 students. I was one of the many who did not get more than ten minutes of computer time during the entire term. I received my token C in the class. Why? I will never know, other than I guess the teacher didn't want to have to explain why I failed the course, which by all rights, I did. But I do know the experience left me skeptical of computers intil I was about 29 years old and had to buy one for graduate work.