Sunday, February 13, 2011

Teachers need to provide equal access to the digital world to all learners...

The whole idea of technological equal access for students is spot on. However, many variables come into effect. Once a school system has the funding to provide enough computers to put in the classrooms, or even into a lab this can be one step closer to the goal. However, there is never a guarantee that any one student has the technology at home. When classwork become too dependent on technology, and students don't have the access, learning may be hindered. Many school systems are aiming for every high school student to have their own laptop. If/When this is finally set into place, the limitations will be lessened greatly. I'm not certain how a single teacher can take on providing equal access, but he/she can certainly make aware those to do make such decisions. If the only access to a computer a student has is at school, homework/projects need to be limited and more flexible. There could be an occasion where a school system cannot afford what might be needed to successfully "keep up" with the most current and up to date technology. When the teachers cannot have the access, it is impossible for students to have the same. Thus, it is imperative that those who do have this luxury demonstrate the true importance of moving forward in this technological world in which we live. There is a student in my child's class who is not allowed to use the one and only computer in their home. We live in a upper middle class town, and the schools are more than prepared to supply anything a student might need when it comes to technology. Yet, this student has one 30 minute session a week in a computer lab. Since the teacher is aware of the issue, it seems she would take the extra time during the week to enable this student to have ample time to master the basics. As it is, he spends the majority of the computer lab time asking questions, where the rest of the kids get that practice at home. On the other hand, I have a friend who teaches in a school in Arkansas where there are only two students who have home computers. They, too, have a computer lab. She spends the first ten minutes of class each time going over the basic steps, and she even has some student "experts" now. She allows them to use the classroom computer as much as possible, and makes sure everyone is comfortable with whatever new technology she introduces. She recently spoke to the school board defending the importance of technology in the classroom. She has no computer training herself, but defends its importance on a daily basis. To just assume that we live in the perfect little world where everyone is fortunate to have access to technology (or "too bad if you don't" as my child's teacher) is a tragic mistake. We should, as educators, always be seeking ways to improve, and setting the "equal access" goal as priority is a great start. It may not be easy, but knowing there is no escaping it should be a good shove in the right direction!

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