The Costs of Technology

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Prompt:  Assume you have your first full time teaching job and the principal tells you that you’ve been selected to pilot the  “1 to 1 Project.”  What are your thoughts about the opportunities and challenges that  presents?

I think that there are some really great positives about the 1:1 system. I have seen it at work within my student teaching classroom. It truly is an excellent method to connect students to the teacher and encourage interactions. It is an extremely easy and practical way for a teacher to view the progress of a student’s work and even give feedback. For example, as students work on a writing piece, the teacher can make comments that the student will see right then and they can make appropriate changes or what not. This could even happen when the student is at home, thus connecting student to teacher even away from school. However, I wouldn’t consider this to be “real-time” interaction, as I have seen 1:1 described. This style could seriously diminish the face to face interactions that are so important between student and teacher. Now, teachers have an accessible excuse to sit in the back of the classroom as and never actually walk around to answer questions or work with students.

Furthermore, in terms of actual costs, technology is extremely expensive. More and more now, schools are encouraging google classroom classes with chromebooks or apple products. I have heard that it is extremely easy these days to get a grant for iPads or chromebooks. However, I can’t help but wonder what a difference we could make if we channeled that money to somewhere else in our education system. We could hire more teachers so that classroom sizes are smaller. Or this money could fund other materials and sources. I volunteered in a classroom where they had brand new macbook airs but there were thirty kids in the class, one teacher, dysfunctional desks, and no other supplies. Furthermore, my biggest qualm with using this 1:1 style is that not all children have computers at home that they can use. If they come from a poor household, their family may not own a computer. Even if the student comes from a higher income household, they may have one computer to share with the rest of their family. They may never get the time one night to do the necessary homework or to finish something that they didn’t have time to finish in class. This can alienate children and cause them to fall behind.

One other giant cost that I see in the 1:1 style is the constant distraction of technology. As I have been teaching in my classroom, I have wrestled with the constant threat of students being led off task by the computer in front of them. If I want students to follow along with an online article as I teach, I have no real way to tell if they are listening to me. Today, for example, I noticed many kids fervently typing away and staring at their screens. Of the screens that I could see, I saw that these kids were taking notes, which I didn’t ask them to do, so I was rather surprised. However, what about those kids that are in the back, with screens that are not visible to me? This could be breaking down the student to teacher interactions. In addition, when I ask students to do workshop time on their computers, I often notice students messaging each other and looking at other websites. I even have one student that I have found hacking the system! I think this a serious cost in terms of not only interactions within the classroom but also in terms of the productivity that students could have if they were simply using pen and paper. At the same time, as I mentioned above, the drawback to pen and paper is that the teacher cannot follow along in a student’s process or progress as well.

If I were a new teacher asked to launch this 1:1 project at a school, I would be apprehensive of these particular costs.

August 30, 2011

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