Magazine article Curriculum Administrator

New Year Deserves New Technology Ideas

Magazine article Curriculum Administrator

New Year Deserves New Technology Ideas

Article excerpt

Individualized education plans for each student aren't out of reach.

It's the day of shiny floors and clean desks. When the wads of gum have been scraped from the undersides of the tables in the cafeteria, and even the portable classrooms and bathrooms smell clean and fresh, you know it's time for a new school year. It may be the end of summer, but on the school calendar it's more like the start of spring. It's all about new beginnings, but in most schools it is still sans technology innovation.

Consider that in the time it took to tidy up the physical plant, digital processing power increased by about 10 percent. In actual clock speed gains, that's a bigger jump than we saw in the entire decade of the not-so-long-ago 1980s. Electronic data storage and communications bandwidth grew even faster, yet in most school districts they went unnoticed and unattended to in the summer fix-up.

Instead, while Steve Jobs was introducing the new Mac OS X with Broadway-style glitz and fanfare in New York in July, inventories of Apple IIs were being dusted and Windexed-clean in schools across America. And while the newly liberated Palm Inc. was signing up hundreds of education developers for its handhelds, too many school boards were wringing their hands in debate about whether or not computers are good for education.

NOT A MONEY ISSUE Schools are sadly lacking in technology innovation, but this is not a money issue. It's a mind-set issue. Many educators are intimidated by tech talk. More than that, they don't like to feel vulnerable. Talk of distributed learning environments and virtual classrooms challenge the very foundation of school structure, personnel management, operating procedures and school financial models. It's just easier to leave technology on the periphery than to put it at the center of curriculum improvement and district operations. In the politics of school leadership, it's easy to downplay the educational potential of technology when there's no guarantee that embracing it will change test scores this year.

But that's the wrong mind-set. Sure, the grandiose promises of ubiquitous computing are still a distant vision, but don't let that lull you into complacency. The simple truth remains that innovation with technology is the most promising approach to cost-effective school improvements, and it is the wise application of technology that will yield the greatest gains in both operational efficiency and student achievement. …

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