This section of CEP 811 is quickly coming to a close. During the semester, we were challenged to rethink our approaches and beliefs about teaching and learning. We delved into investigating teaching our traditional content areas in non-traditional ways utilizing technology. I have never engaged with some of the technologies that we experimented with this semester. For instance, I learned to make a digital poster, how to create artifacts utilizing a 3D pen, and learned to work with Evernote. All the while, we thought about and planned for infusing technologies like these in the classroom.
I could easily see having students create digital posters to demonstrate learning or even to teach my students how to utilize Evernote to improve their note taking, organization of resources, and the sharing of information. With the Maker projects, I found ways to make curriculum more exciting and to expand my students’ experiences with and understandings of technology一from utilizing a 3D pen to create artifacts representing Italian culture to utilizing Makey kits to solve complex problems. I felt that we were really challenged to “think outside the box.” I have so many new lessons to engage my students in the learning of Italian. I realize more fully now that I have to push my students academically and technologically and that I have to blur the lines between the two in my own thinking and approach to teaching and learning.
Yet, all of this new thinking and inspiration was a bit of a double-edged sword to me. I think I really realized how the gap between those who have and those who have not has the potential to become an abyss if we as a society do not start valuing education and truly investing in it. Of course, technology has the potential to close gaps. One need only look at how the cell phone has changed Africa for an example.
It’s just that, as a public school teacher who’s worked in both wealthy and poor districts, I see what a huge difference there is in access. My school has roughly fifteen laptop carts and three available computer labs for 150 teachers and 3,500 students, but the laptops were inaccessible all of first semester due to needed maintenance and updates. In the three computer labs that were available, several had broken screens. Some had faulty drives, and some needed re-imaging. Even though we are a Title I school, little money exists for acquiring and learning to incorporate new technologies in our teaching.
Now, when one contrasts this to other schools in the Bay Area that have a 1:1 computer to student ratio, I think the danger of a widening gap starts to come into focus. Even within a single district, I have seen more affluent schools with much better access to technologies than their counterparts located in economically struggling sections of town. I worry about my students being able to compete in a global marketplace against students that have had access to so much more on a consistent basis. Yes, it can be discouraging, but I think my big takeaway from CEP 811 is that I have to advocate for increased spending on and/or access to updated and new technologies for our students. We all have to commit to adequately funding education and the infusing of technologies like Raspberry Pi, Chromebooks, Circuit kits, etc. into our schools and educational institutions at every level一not just for those who already have access but for all students regardless of their SES.
On a final note, I thought that I would repost a video from YouTube here. It contains interesting and sobering statistics updated for 2017. You might have seen a video like this before, but even so, it’s worth a rewatch. I think it kind of sums up the importance of what we’ve been learning about this semester.
A. (2016, September 03). Did You Know (Officially updated for 2017). Retrieved February 28, 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u06BXgWbGvA
Jejimenezlc. (2015, May 26). Free Image on Pixabay – Technology, Background. Retrieved February 28, 2017, from https://pixabay.com/en/technology-background-technological-784046/ [CC0 Public Domain. Free for commercial use. No attribution required]