In K-12, the perception is that all the IT guy really has to do is go out and get new and used computers and put them in a room with other computers. Connect them to the Internet and he's done. Right? Yeah, right! If you're reading this blog, then you know better! But do your peers?
Often enough, by the time kids reach high school, the computer is perceived by educators as more of a social distraction for students than it is a tool for learning. Why is this? Perhaps it is because students know more about using the technology than their teachers. Sure the scope of their knowledge is limited to the latest 'craze' and their use of the technology is ineffective, often inappropriate, and sometimes downright unsafe! Still they are anxious to use the technology. In part because their parents and teachers haven't got a clue about how to use the technology themselves. It's time to change that. It is time for our educators to use that enthusiasm on the part of our students to immerse them in the technology -- not waste taxpayer dollars trying to curb that enthusiasm in the name of trying to protect them.
I get my share of feedback from readers who maintain that none of this technology is helpful to learning -- and that it is not cost-effective to be concerned with life-cycle replacement of hardware and infrastructure -- let alone software -- while schools are struggling to maintain their physical plant and still retain their best teachers. While I see their point, the fact that other aspects of our educational system need serious attention does not negate the value of a robust and up-to-date information technology infrastructure, and the training for our educators to use it effectively.
Instead of trying to keep our students off of the web -- out of fear they will become prey, we should be embracing the web as a place they love to go where we can come along and show them the positive side to the information age.
Other people represent the interests of our overworked and underpaid teachers but what about our students? How can they take our educational system seriously when the IT infrastructure they have at home (where there is often little guidance) is vastly superior to that of their school. Our schools should be better equipped than our poorest students and there should be enough exposure and training to keep all of our students engaged -- and challenged.