wasting bandwidth since 1999

Did You Notice The Change?

At our office staff meeting last week we were asked to offer some statements about what technology in the classroom looked like in 1994, looks like today, and what it will look like in 2020.

In case you haven’t already been hit over the head enough times with the 2020 concept, that’s the year our current kindergarten students are scheduled to graduate from high school.

All of them perfect, of course, since that will happen in 2014 by decree of NCLB.

Anyway, the purpose of the discussion was to give our director some talking points on the subject to take to a meeting with the assistant superintendent the next day.

I really wasn’t able to offer her much in the way of positive sound bites.

My co-conspirator Karen and I were the nay-sayers in the room, coming to the conclusion that very little about teaching and learning has changed in in those 13 years and that technology has had very little influence on basic classroom practice.

And the way things are going with American education, the classroom of 2020 will look very much like those of today, and, for that matter 1994.

In our overly-large school district, computers have certainly had a big impact on administrative functions. Email and general web use is routine for just about everyone, as is online access to some HR functions.

In the high schools, everyone uses electronic attendance and grade books. The majority of our elementary teachers have become very comfortable with using laptops since most have had one for three or four years.

Sure, we’ve put a lot of technology into our school buildings since 1994.

But has any of it actually affected student learning? Has it changed the way teachers teach?

Of course, there are little pockets where computers and networks have made an impact. Corners where teachers and students are making great use of the tools available.

However, most of the classrooms I’ve observed, especially in the high schools, are organized and run pretty much as they were thirteen years ago.

Or twenty-three years ago. Or thirty-three years ago. Or…


  1. Lee Dixon

    I agree.

    I’ve come to believe that our best investment in technology, after supplying a laptop and network access to all staff, should be to support instructional pioneers. Perhaps cutting their teaching load in half, so they can develop lessons which demonstrate integration of technology into instruction. Other teachers on the staff could observe and try to replicate what they see.

    We try to hard to achieve equality of access to technology when some clearly won’t make much use of it when they get it.

  2. Mark

    With respect to your cracks about high school, this sounds more rant than reason. It’s your blog and you can cry if you want to, but I’m wondering how extensive your high school observations are. Been to WSHS, SCSS, GCMHS, WTWHS? I can’t speak intelligently about other schools, but while these schools may not fit the model of instruction (or is it technology integration) that you wish for, these are schools where teachers (sometimes led by their instructional technology specialists) are posing and attempting to answer questions along the lines of: how do we best provide a learning environment for our students and how do we assess our success and our students’ success? And the metric is not simply state test results or AYP results. I would argue that wholesale changes are happening in the way teachers view their curricula and their role in it. I would agree that if curriculum areas were less strictly partitioned from each other, there would be more ooportunities to learn across a swath of disciplines, but I don’t see that kind of change happening anytime soon. Finally, technology is but one spoke in the wheel. It’s just a tool, nothing more than leverage, a force multiplier for what you’re already doing. Maybe if just handed out Macs and took down the ICF filters… (couldn’t resist ;-)

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