Saturday, June 13, 2015

To Tech or not to Tech, that is the school's question!

Working in a low socio-economic school has its own challenges.  For years we have professed to be
a 21st century school but coming out of the 20th century took over ten years where I teach.  I believe most teachers would agree that the teaching profession embraces any technology that is created. Mechanical pencils replaced pencil sharpeners in my room (though I have to admit I still give new Ticonderoga #2 pencils to all my students before the National AP Exam each year.)  Computer labs replaced typewriters and e-books are replacing textbooks.  Many years ago I asked several of my seniors who were going to be engineers to design a desk for me that would have a lid to lift and a computer would be inside so we would not have to walk to the lab each day. They smiled and said, "someday" but now each of my students will have a chrome book - even better! 

Using technology has not been the challenge.  Getting "equal access for all students" in our district has been the greatest tech problem I have faced as a teacher.  As a lifetime resident of Illinois, I can only speak of our situation. I teach in a rural district of 1300 students about an hour and a half outside of Chicago.  Up until this fall, we have shared five labs of 25 computers each and three dell laptop carts.  Most of my classes have over 25 students and we only fit in one lab in the school.  Many of our students live in homes with no internet access limiting any activities such as blogging, flipping or assignments requiring a computer.  Large districts closer to the city have had updated computers for years, yet my husband's country school where he teaches, with 75 students in the whole high school, only has one computer lab with 17 computers.  The outlook for the future of technology in his school is slim to nothing as money is very tight.  This year in the district I teach in, the school board found money somewhere and decided the only answer was to give each student a chrome book to use throughout the year.  As excited as I am about this new device, we have not yet solved how to get internet access in the homes of those students who cannot afford it and will never have it.  I think I will assign homework in the fall to my students to create a list of all the businesses around town that have free Wi-Fi and we will post it in the room so they can take their laptops and do their homework there.

Technology is the future and all students deserve the same opportunities. Until we as a country or state can figure out how to give equal access to all students, we will always have a larger technology problem that will not go away.

1 comment:

  1. What a challenge you have! I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your situation. I like the idea of sharing where free Wifi is located. A thought: blend this with lessons on digital privacy so students understand the problems with free public Wifi.