And they just...sit there.
I'm talking about the brand new iPads my friend's school acquired at the start of this school year.
The administration touted its good fortune to the parents. The acquisition of this technology would bring their school into the 21st century; their students would become connected; they'd be competitive among the surrounding schools.
Which is great--if the iPads could actually walk themselves into the hands of a student and be used in a purposeful manner. (Maybe that's a 22nd-century concept?)
But see, no one in the administration thought to provide for professional development that could have assisted teachers in learning best practices for iPads in the classroom. Or even simply arranged for a day for the teachers to share ideas and plans for the iPads for the school year.
So there the iPads sat in their moveable cart, but not moving much at all.
My friend offered to hold an in-service for the teachers, having taken an iPad integration class last summer. But the administration summarily rejected his idea on the grounds that "the teachers will figure it out on their own. We shouldn't have to pay teachers their salary AND pay for training."
True story. Somehow, it was worth investing $15,000 in iPads but it wasn't worth investing in teacher training.
In her article "What's Worth Investing In? How to Decide What Technology You Need," author Tina Barseghian posits that schools need to stop and think about what they need before they purchase it: "We have to be thinking about what’s the goal of using technology. What do we want to have happen?”
Exactly. What DO we want to have happen? Simply having the technology in close proximity to the students doesn't make a school a 21st century one. Semantically speaking, ALL schools are 21st century schools, right?
Welcoming the iPads into the school didn't make students better learners, nor did it make them more tech-savvy.
To quote my sons: "Duh."
Osmosis works only at the cellular level.
Technology for technology's sake doesn't work. We need to establish goals for our students, for our curriculum, and for our teachers before we make the purchases. And in most cases, the money could be better spent on helping our teachers to integrate already-existing technology into the curriculum. I've talked to WAY too many teachers who don't integrate technology simply because it's coming at them faster than they can keep up, and no one seems to be interested in helping them do so. Which means...maybe there are a lot of us faking it out there?
On his list of the Top 10 Ways to Fake a 21st Century Classroom (which is both hilarious and disturbingly accurate, by the way), Terry Heick puts "Buy iPads" at #6: "If it’s a 21st century learning environment you’re looking for, a classroom full of students pinching and zooming on little glass rectangles will give it to you in spades."
Pretty accurate observation, Mr. Heick.
I've never understood the whole concept of "fake it until you make it." How about we learn before we do? Isn't that what we tell our students? Isn't that expected in ANY century of learning?
I've seen a recent (and hopeful) trend in local school districts, and that's the hiring of technology/instructional coaches. It's a slow-moving trend, but I hope it's on an upward swing.
Because if we don't invest in our teachers, we're certainly not making an investment in our students.
Or in their 21st century learning.
And that rings pretty false to me.
image via Flickr