Thursday, June 14, 2007

Tech Funding, Support and Future

I'm doing a lot of reading right now, and thoughts keep running through my head. Some I want to share, some I'm just trying to shove right back out.
There's an article on eSchool News Online about how nine states who have received Federal Ed Tech Funds are reporting gains. Awhile ago there was another article about how technology is not really making gains. I have my own thoughts on this, as I'm sure many technology coaches do too.
First, I know there's an age old saying about throwing money at problems doesn't solve the problem. That's true. However, without the proper funding, schools cannot purchase the up to date hardware and software they need. When I left my school district last year, they still hand Windows 95 in the elementary schools. Can you imagine the problems they had encountered with Internet security issues and the software we picked out for them? They needed new computers, but we didn't have funding at the time for elementary schools to get new computers. I'm happy to report that they now have new computers.
Second, it's not the money and it's not the technology. It's the training that goes along with the computers. A lot of teachers will say they are over-trained, and they are correct. What they need is a good technology coach. Let's put it in perspective of football. Would you train a football team and then send them onto the field to play major games without coaches and with only a manager sitting up in the box watching the game? The manager has a lot of responsibilities - but coaching the team is not really one of them. Same thing with educators. The principal needs to lead by example, but he or she also depends on coaches to be on the field and keep the players heads in the game. They have paperwork and other headaches to deal with.
There was another report (Diplomas Count) that talked about preparing our students for college or a progressive workforce. A lot of schools will tell you that in all honesty their students are not ready for college or are not college material, so they prepare them for the workforce. Some focus on getting the kids ready for more of a technical education than a four year liberal arts degree. Each area has their own ideas and reasons. But the future does hold technology. We have to integrate it into our classrooms, or our students won't be ready for the future. I have to laugh because yesterday a new person at StarBucks didn't know how to operate their touch screen register and a customer at the hair salon didn't get her appointment because the new employee wrote the appointment on a piece of paper and not in the computer because she wasn't familiar with the computer. Within an hour I witnessed two service-centered places of business deal with issues because of computer problems.
So where am I going with all this rambling? Technology is very important in today's classroom. We need to fund it correctly, provide ongoing training and support, and we need to think about the future when preparing our students for the variety of opportunities.

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