Results from a few pilots show that technology in the classroom has a significant effect on student engagement, active learning and the connection between class work and real-world applications. In North Carolina, the state funded a pilot of technology-based teaching at Greene Central High. Before the program, students went to college at the rate of 26%. Now, after the program has been in place for a few years, the rate of college-placed seniors is 94%. The school has other strategies in place to augment student success, but the principal credit the emphasis on technology as huge driver of these marked outcomes.
The downside is that technology is expensive both for implementation and training. Teachers using technology need a whole new set of skills on coaching, facilitation and collaboration. While the best teacher routinely teach in these ways, many are still in the mode of verbal linguistic, lecture-like modes. Most states are facing severe budget cuts and barely have teachers for traditional classes.
As time goes on, hopefully industry will fund more and more of these pilots until we are, a few decades from now, able to replicate the North Carolina pilot model for students across the country. In that scenario, many students would be having meaningful learning experiences with their counterparts all over the world. There is enormous potential in technology for learning for all types of learners and we need to push ahead to make this access for all model a reality.
An Apple for Your Teacher?
By ANNE MARIE CHAKER
It’s shaping up to be a grim year for the Spokane Public School district in Washington state. Like so many others, it is making deep cuts in everything from teaching staff to school supplies this coming school year. But there’s one bright spot for the district: The amount of federal dollars to incorporate technology in the classroom—and to train teachers to use it—is expected to double to about $160,000 from the previous year.
At the same time school districts around the nation are bracing for a round of severe belt-tightening as a result of strained state and local budgets, they’re also getting a significant bump in federal funding to make their classrooms more tech-savvy, which they hope will help improve student performance.
The only problem: Districts are prohibited from using the money for any other purpose—which can mean that they have to cut staff and other programs while spending lavishly on computers.