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Technology as a Language

CDW released a report today claiming that only 39 percent of students claim their technology needs are being met by their highschools. I was struck by a student quote which read “I don’t want to type things just to say I used technology, I want to be doing something I couldn’t do without it.” I’m not sure why but it was reminiscent of a discussion I had with a middle schooler not long ago when asking him about the projector/whiteboard combination present in all the classrooms of his upscale school district. He told me there was really no point...that it was all the same things only shown on a projector instead of written on a dry erase board.

I asked him what he'd prefer to see and his ideas, which were based in his own daily technology use, imagined an internet connection,using Skype to conduct interviews with specialists, having online discussions with students around the world, creating project wikis with them and utilizing the many tools on his cell phone for learning and responding. He had it all figured out but doubted that his teacher (who shared his enthusiasm for technology) would be able to make it happen.

Although this study was conducted by a company whose lifeblood is its technology sales to government education and healthcare customers, it was helpful to me because while they were trying to identify the evolution of technology in the classroom in order to target opportunities for themselves, it cannot hurt any of us to hear the voices of students above the noise.

Regardless of all the money and push for technology purchases and the pursuit of the 21st Century Classroom, a whopping 94 percent of students claim to use technology to complete homework assignments, while only 46 percent of the teachers claim the assignments warranted its use. Additionally, While more than 70 percent of faculty and IT staff believe they understand how students want to use technology as a learning tool, just 49 percent of students agree.

Just throwing this out there…..could it maybe be that there is a communication problem? I mean, technology is a broad subject. To one educator, anything beyond a classroom projector and an internet connection would be superflouous. To another, trying to function without the use of Piazza.com and its subsequent data tools would be a hurtful compromise. But technology is a living breathing language and the most successful among us will realize that whether or not we choose to speak it is different from not learning it at all. The immersion method always worked for me.

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