Obama Links Ed Tech to Economic Growth
reads the December 3, 2008 Digital | Directions
article. Those of us involved with education and technology have been chanting an ed-tech mantra for quite some time, having identifed it as the hook to engage and challenge 21st century students. We have experimented with various applications in our classrooms, trying to involve our students with their own education, and ultimately excite them not just as users, but as producers, of content. We have participated in local and regional conferences, attended workshops, and enjoyed dialogue with other educators, learning from our colleagues already experimenting with applications and web sites, sharing our successes and failures, as well as theirs. As we have grown and experimented with ed-tech, we bring it to our students, sometimes just to keep pace with them, but often to expand their cyberspace experiences, always mindful of challenging them to learn. I am excited that our next President will be supporting our efforts, that not only does he not want any child left behind, but he seems willing to provide the funds to assist us in our endeavors to move them forward.
I hope he realizes that we must teach the teachers how to integrate the technology into their lessons, and that without the vision, support, and encouragement of school administrators, a school filled with computers, but without the professionals knowledgeable in their use as educational tools, they might be nothing more than play-stations and video players. In the last two decades, Reading Specialists were trained and hired by schools, but the funds for hiring Instructional Technologists are rarely provided. Time for ongoing workshops, guided by an Instructional Technologist is essential.
Yet, I am not encouraged by Obama's choice for Secretary of Education. Based on my experiences under Arne Duncan's leadership, I had my school, which was on probation but which had made significant improvements, backslide to become the worst high school in the city under 3 successive principals placed in the school by Mr. Duncan. Finally, when we continued to fail, he fired the entire staff, hiring almost an entirely new staff, calling the school a "turn-around" school. As a teacher very much affected by this policy, I admit I am biased. I believe such a drastic process broadcasts a negative message about the very dedicated teachers who work in extremely challenging schools.
But let me end this on a positive note: if Mr. Duncan has learned any lesson from his "one size fits all" educational policy, it should be that with the assistance of technology, every student can have an individualized educational plan, because everyone has special needs. I would suggest that Mr. Duncan spend some time with the ed-tech visionaries who frequent this and other similar blog, wiki, and ning educational networks. I would send Arne back to school for some professional development.