Weblogging about education technology

I’ve recently started reading a couple of online blogs about education, and I’d like to find more. Anyone have any suggestions. Also I’m thinking about starting my own, specifically to address the problems of technology in a private school.

The image of private schools is that we have unlimited budgets and all sorts of fancy toys for the classroom. While that is true at some schools, it’s by no means true of all schools, and certainly not true of mine. It’s telling that we have a SmartBoard, which is a nifty piece of technology, provided that it’s used correctly. However, ours has an inadequate computer running outmoded software attached to it to make it work, so that it’s slow and unmanageable. Currently, the projector that makes it work with photographs or Keynote or PowerPoint presentations is assigned to a different classroom, and the cable that allows it to record drawings on it is missing.

In other words, great idea, doesn’t work.

By contrast, the upcoming PicoProjector could do amazing things in the classroom. In theory they’d be cheap enough, and portable enough, for five or six teachers to have one, and reliable enough that they could be carried from classroom to classroom. They could also be used for impromptu demonstrations in the hallways, in the dining hall, in the dormitories and elsewhere. You could even use them during study halls to show movies, educational programming, and more.

But there’s no budget, and there’s no curriculum plan for how these technologies will be used, and who gets to have access to them. And many of my colleagues have given up on computer technology to create learning experiences because the tech is unreliable (broken machines, buggy software), difficult to get at or use (locked doors, problematic security software, limited access to tech support in-school or through outsourcing), subject to student misuse (inappropriate browsing online, Internet use, Facebook), and no clear ideas of how to teach technology use despite actual experience (how to teach podcasting when you know how to do it, but don’t have a podcasting lab available, how to teach newspaper layout when you have only one copy of the page layout software, etc). Hmmm.

Clearly this is something in need of solving, either through an incremental process or a change in philosophy. What that change is, though, I have neither the authority to implement, nor the collegiality to create.

4 comments

  1. Re: And then there’s the rush to buy a paperweight…

    Yack. That’s a little old-school even for me. I don’t know how to solve these sorts of tech problems once they’re implemented, but trying to figure out how to move beyond the blackboard is driving me crazy.

  2. Dude, we totally should…

    I think that if you, my friend loquacious music (Ben) and I start blogging as a team, we could create a pretty kick-tuckus edublog. We could probably find a few extra special guest bloggers, and make a really nice site, get our work out there…

    It could be awesome.

    my e-mail is anselm234 at mac.com… write me with some contact info, and we’ll chat via phone or VoIP this week…

  3. And then there’s the rush to buy a paperweight…

    My high school (from which I graduted more than a dozen years ago) is still using the laser-disk players they bought. (Holy Name in Worcester)

    Yes, laser-disks. Those things that were LP sized DVDs. Which were around, maybe, 2 years?
    Some swifty sales monkey (my guess is, a parent of one or more students) made a pitch about it being the latest technology and they got some funding from the Alumni or something, and they bought 5 of them.

    When I was there, two of them didn’t work. And they had maybe a dozen disks between biology, general life science, and a couple of films that were educational enough to show in the classroom.

    Meanwhile, the psych classes were still watching film strips.
    “John sometimes wondered about his feelings, why he’d get angry so quickly” *BOOP* “He got in fights sometimes” *BOOP* “Even with boys bigger than himself.” *BOOP*

  4. Dude — I work at a private school that’s A) not for profit, B) not so wealthy, and C) very very vested in technology. I’ve helped in developing several of our technology plans, our curricular and pedagogical models, our technology decision making process, and I’ve had to work on most of the equipment.

    We should talk.

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