Thursday, November 5, 2009

What is a School Technology Paradise?

In my mind, we really don't need paradise, but K-12 education could at least strive to be like major universities and colleges or even corporations and the Federal government. Here are some things that would be indicative of a School Tech Paradise:

1. Technology Department is user-centered-Nearly every school district that I am aware of has a tech department that rarely communicates with those that actually use their technology. The primary concern of school technology types seems to be on security and stability instead of usability. All that's needed is a little cultural change of expecting school technology personnel to focus on the needs and desires of their end users. This means consulting with teachers about software adoption.

2. School takes advantage of ubiquitous connectivitySchools today are making futile efforts to block student from using cell-phones and various internet tools while at school. In stead of expending our money and effort on a lost cause, we need to make efforts to train our educators to use this technology to promote learning and engage students.

3. Campus professionals are expected to use technology. All too often laggard teachers that don't use even basic technology are coddled and protected. There are places where large numbers of so-called professionals won't even read emails from administration. Fire them or make their lives miserable so they quit. Don't enable the techno-phobes. Expect them to adapt.

4. Technology is used to make school efficient. Eliminate irrelevant intercom announcements and replace them with occasional video, blogs, text messages and other tools that reach the intended audience. Teachers should prepare all of their lessons electronically so we don't have to deal with expensive copiers that break down. We can eliminate the practice of purchasing and checking out mind-numbing textbooks and expecting them to be returned without doodling all over them.

5. School Web sites contemporary and up-to-date!Look all around. School Web sites are a joke mostly, using design templates that are 10-years out-of-date, hosting content that is stagnant and rarely updated. Upgrading the schools' Web systems is the first step in changing our image and the way we operate.

6. No one looks for the quick fix. Decision makers in education often purchase technology systems for some narrow purpose, such as drilling kids on skills to improve test scores. These systems are out-of-date in a few years, and they don't improve teaching and learning. Integrating technology takes smarts, strategic planning and hard work. Unfortunately some companies seem to be very effective at peddling technology packages that promise easy and quick results without any positive influence on long-term school improvement.

Of course I could go on an on about specifics, but if we could just focus on these 6 things, we could make so much progress.

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