A Field Trip to the Garbage Dump

comments Commentstotal9
Imagine if your child came home from school with a permission slip to go on a field trip...

... to the garbage dump.

"Um..." you say since you don't really understand "modern" education.

So you read further.

"We will be dropping your kids off at the front gate of the dump, with the objective of finding something of value buried in all the trash. There will be no adult supervision on this field trip".

Would you sign?

If you answered yes, then I will be contacting the local Children's Services agency in your area.

You would be foolish to agree to this kind of field trip.

But when we put computers in the hands of our students and give them access to the Internet with no guidelines, objectives, or training, we are essentially agreeing to do this very thing.

Are computers a bad thing?

Computers can be an incredible distraction that diverts great amounts of resources away from the core reasons our schools exist.

Computers grow old faster than a fruit fly and need to be replaced regularly.

They are disruptive.

All of this is true, but technology in the classroom is also one of the best things you can provide for your students... if it's done properly.

  • The choice of technology will be be based on the curriculum, expected outcomes and desired competencies. Don't aim for tablets because they are cool and cheaper than other computers. Buy tablets because they are the best tool for what you are trying to achieve.
  • The curriculum and learning spaces are designed to leverage the advantages technology can bring. Projectors are wireless, tables are movable, etc.
  • You don't assume that kids are 'Tech savvy". You develop digital literacy skills. (Hint: Don't get rid of the school librarian, but you may want to change their job description.)
  • You manage behaviour on the Internet, you don't control it. You teach students about the "sharp edges" of the Internet (including lack of anonymity, cyber-bullying, identity theft, and MUCH more)
  • You don't jettison what is currently working. Why would you get rid of an $8 paperback for English class and replace it with a $150 eReader and $10 ebook version of the same thing?
  • You provide time for your faculty to learn and develop skills in using the technology.
  • You have built a solid infrastructure for your technology to run on. There is no advantage to providing computers if the school's network crashes whenever the class tries to all log on at the same time.
  • You have created the skill sets in your IT department that bridges the gap between learning and technology. (Hint: It's not a teacher who likes to play with gadgets.

Although it might seem like it, I'm certainly not against technology in the classroom. As a matter of fact it's my job to work with the academic leadership to develop a better model for using technology.

The trouble is with many 1:1 implementations is that computers and tablets are handed out without a clear understanding of the objectives. Handing a student a computer without a strategy and understanding of how it's going to help them learn is marginally better than teaching them how to smoke.

What is your experience? Have you seen a few "field trips to the garbage dump" get implemented in the name of technology adoption?

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