Magazine article Curriculum Administrator

What's Mine Is Mine

Magazine article Curriculum Administrator

What's Mine Is Mine

Article excerpt

When technology is everywhere all the time, "ownership" takes on a new meaning.

Not so long ago, being on the wrong side of the Digital Divide meant not having access to a computer. More recently, it's meant not having entree to the Internet. But as technology becomes ever more pervasive, what does it take to be included rather than excluded? What is required to assure that all children benefit from the way technology is gradually changing education into a 24/7, "plug in from anywhere" proposition?

I've been thinking about these questions a lot lately. That's partly because (full disclosure ahead!) the company I work for is in the handheld, wireless computing business, so I am reminded daily of what kids are capable of when supplied with great tools. But there's also a personal dimension here. More and more these days, I'm leading the life of a high-tech hobo, doing most of my work far away from anything resembling a conventional office.

ME AND MY MACHINE You can tell by the size of my backpack that I'm not really on the cutting edge. I've got my full-size laptop and all the trimmings in there, and am 93 percent sure I wouldn't be able to work without it.

Much of the discussion about access focuses on devices: What machines kids have where, and how much those machine need to be able to do. Now that the student-to-computer ratio in most schools is well below the double digits, should we press all the way to one-on-one? And if we go that far, shouldn't the machines kids have work the way kids do: on the move, ready to change subjects in a heartbeat, equally likely to tune in on the bus as in the class? Shouldn't they be homework machines too, assuring equal access to technology outside the school building as well as in?

The answer that many school districts have for all of these questions is "Yes." Some send donated PCs home, while others invest in laptops or handhelds that work everywhere in the building before heading out in backpacks. Schools that aren't actively doing something to assure steady access to technology are fretting about it.

One of the key choices a school must make when heading down this road is the rock-and-hard-place decision between cost and functionality. …

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