Monday, December 2, 2013

More Computers or Better Use of Computers?

We need more computers!
Ask the majority of teachers (and Principals) what they want in the classroom, and this is the typical answer. Yes, computers are a great resource for great teachers to use in the classroom; however, do we need more or do we need more training on how to use the computers and resources we already have in our buildings? The age old debate of quantity versus quality with a 21st century spin. According to a 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation study, teens today spend 7 1/2 hours a day consuming some form of media via televisions, mobile devices, and video games, so it is very easy to understand why schools are so starved for more technology in the classroom. Students are being asked to power off when they enter our doors. Floyd County Schools continues to look for creative ways to integrate technology into our schools by bringing in initiatives such as BYOT, Collaborative Learning Centers, and Interactive Whiteboards. There are many wonderful success stories of school districts that implement mass numbers of computers for student use in the classroom and at home. Many have been successful such as Richland 2 School District in Columbia, SC, and Forsyth School District in Forsyth County, Georgia. Unfortunately, for every one that is successful, there are many that are not. Take a quick look at a recent article excerpt about LA Unified School District in California pertaining to their rush to answer the demand for "more computers". 

Why aren’t teachers using the iPads in class? The survey suggests that they don’t really know how. Training has been minimal. Apple, the manufacturer, provided one day of iPad training. Pearson, the London-based textbook company that provides the still-just-partially available curriculum for the devices, provided only two days of training.
School district officials told the Times they now realize that teachers need additional training on how to use iPads and how to manage classrooms of students who are using iPads. They have also recommended giving teachers iPads six months before students receive them.
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LA's iPad push is a great example for districts like FCS that are continually searching for the appropriate device for our stakeholders, and the proper way to train our teachers how to use these devices to support student achievement. Having thousands of computers is great, but if we want to create transformative lessons for our students, we need to make sure we analyze all possible scenarios needed for a successful roll out.