TECHNOLOGY AND EDUCATION: PART 2

Imagine going to school, and not having to lug a lot of books home with you.
Sure, we want students to be more physical, but carrying books, backpacks laden with “stuff” for school, is probably not the best way to be active.
Cheryl Atkinson, superintendent of schools for DeKalb County, Ga., recently announced that by August 2014, every middle school and high school student in DeKalb will have HIS own device, with all his textbooks on it. Every teacher will have a laptop. Every school will be wireless.
Maureen Downey, education columnist for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, discussed this in her Dec. 10,2012, column. Atkinson spoke at a DeKalb Chamber of Commerce luncheon about this topic. “The fact is … (students) can’t wait for us to catch up to their style of learning, nor should they have to,” Downey quoted Atkinson.
Technology is eventually going to change education in more ways than one. School districts are scrounging for resources. Their governmental benefactors want to give them as few resources as possible. Many see public education as a costly burden, that wastes much of what is given to it.
Technology can solve a good bit of that problem. Technology is making books – one of education’s biggest costs – obsolete. One day, we could see many classes taught by interactive videos. Imagine having one teacher who teaches a certain subject well, simultaneously broadcast to multiple schools. How many fewer teachers might we need in the future? How many students might get the best education the school district can offer, vs. multiple teachers of various experience and abilities making learning in one school better than learning in another school in the same district?
EVERYTHING A STUDENT NEEDS IS IN HIS POCKET?
Imagine a student carrying everything he needs to learn with in a device. As innovations progress, devices shrink. Someday, everything students need will be in their pockets. Just think: no books, no pencils, no pads of paper. All those supplies that cost money will be totally unnecessary. If you buy each student a device, it will seem like a bargain, compared to all those other supplies.
Education will be like other industries, using technology to do more, and better, with less. These advances may not go over well with teachers and other employees, who will see job opportunities decrease. On the other hand, technology can help the really good teachers get in front of more students. That can only improve education.
Because of the Internet, information is readily available to students. Teachers can spend less and less time imparting information, and more and more time teaching students the best way to use information. Teachers can be more creative with student interaction, and less structured in the classroom.
Education is slow to use technology to increase productivity and improve quality. The education systems have to overcome old barriers to innovation, so that students can learn in their own style, as Atkinson put it.
Imagine making a great income showing friends something on a gadget. How? Visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau.
We’ve seen many young people so immersed in their gadgets doing insignificant things for hours on end. We’ve seen gadgets keep kids stationary, when they should be moving more. We’ve seen students lugging backpacks full of books and supplies to and from school.
When the school requires them to use their gadgets for educational purposes, they’ll still spend hours with their gadgets, but doing more fruitful tasks. They won’t be lugging books and supplies to and from school, so maybe they’ll want to get out and move more.
Technology may be a curse as well as a blessing, but it is reality. Let’s hope our educational system catches up with reality sooner rather than later.
Peter

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