Monday, November 17, 2014

Technology in My Placement

As we are learning in class, technology can play an incredibly important role in the classroom. It can make teaching easier when used properly and students often find it more engaging than traditional methods of conveying information. However, technology is very expensive and school districts often cannot afford to purchase all of the technological tools that they would like.

Ann Arbor is a very good school district and yet it too does not have the capability to provide all of the possible resources. My placement at Community High School has exposed me to what (I assume) is the typical range of technological resources available to most schools. There are a few computer labs which contain relatively new apple desktop computers and several laptop carts which contain much older macs. Each classroom has a projector and a sound system that teachers can use to share visual and audio media. There is one IT person who comes to Community once a week. Though this technology may seem simplistic and limited, it actually is very functional and seems to work well for the teachers and students of this school.

Though it might be nice for each classroom to have a smart board or for each student to have easy, reliable access to a laptop, it is not necessary. In fact, the addition of such technological tools without the proper training would be disastrous. Teachers must be comfortable and familiar with the technology in their classrooms. Furthermore, they must be able to plan how the technology will be incorporated into their lessons and prepare for a plan B in case something goes wrong. This requires a new type of professional development and many teachers may be uncomfortable reworking their lessons to include technological tools. I think there is a happy medium where teachers can try new things, but don't have to jump on the bandwagon every time a new and improved gadget comes on the market.

My mentor teacher, a graduate of the MAC program, makes use of the projector and the sound system in her room and frequently signs the class up for trips to the computer lab. However, I think the most important technology available in the school is quite simply access to the internet. The most important thing isn't the availability of computers, it is having the ability to use them. We have access to an excellent stock market game that allows students to simulate buying and selling stocks. I think a lesson's success is based on how well you use the tools you have, not whether or not you have the newest gadget. As we've learned in our 504 class there are a lot of web-based tools that teachers and students can use to stay organized, learn, and engage with the material. Though Community High School may not have the most sophisticated gadgetry, I think that the teachers do a remarkable job with what they have.

1 comment:

  1. It is very interesting to compare our schools' access to technology. Where I am, in a suburb of Detroit, we too have access to computer labs. However, they are old machines (early-2000s) and have been updated to Windows 7. This is so that these computers may be used for computer based testing that students will be having to participate in in the very near future. While the idea behind this structuring of tech, it is not practical in the least. Students must independently log in to computers using personal accounts and the startup+login experience takes at least 10 minutes to complete. The computers are incredibly slow and not very practical. I agree that our teachers (for the most part) try to take advantage of the software that they have and that they do make the best of it, but there are some problems that accompany being in a district with financial issues. Even the students will complain about the computers and say that "we can't have better because our school is poor."

    Teachers too have to write grants for most the technology that they have in their classroom. I know that my mentor teacher bought his own projector, as one was not provided. He wrote grants for every other piece of tech we have in our classroom.

    I, like you, that technology is a great tool but that one must be careful in how you implement it and that we don't need every new gadget possible on the market. I do after watching high school students type with one finger for hours on end if we are really preparing our students for the job economy that exists out there in the real world.

    Should we actually be spending more money and time on technology? Is there merit in shifting our focus in education from rote memorization to problem solving and the use of technological tools?