I keep returning to The 7 Golden Rules of Using Technology in Schools, an article that came my way last week via a Tweet from Jackie Gerstein (one of my favorite online mentors). The article is written by Tina Barseghian and references an ISTE 2011 presentation by Adam S. Bellow, author of the Tech Commandments.
I’m stuck on Rule #1:
1) DON’T TRAP TECHNOLOGY IN A ROOM. “When I went to school, computers were put in a room called The Lab,” Bellow said. “‘What are they experimenting with in there, I thought.’ Technology wasn’t built into what we were doing. It was farmed off in a room, like it was special. Like we were learning how to code, and in case the Russians came, we’d know what to do.” Technology should be like oxygen, Bellow said, quoting Chris Lehmann, the founding principal of Science Leadership Academy: Ubiquitous, necessary, and invisible.”
In my district, due to our current budget crisis, elementary school computer lab teachers have been in and out of the budget cuts. I admit to being conflicted over the removal of this position from our elementary sites. Every job removed = up to 1 full time position per elementary site erased. So, for the time being, my vote is to keep the computer lab position going (omg, it’s painful to think about how many wonderful teachers have been pinkslipped). No, I do not endorse technology as a stand alone subject. But I fully support the work of outstanding elementary computer lab teachers like Erica Swift, who extend the core curriculum through their carefully crafted lessons, such as her Life Cycle of the Monarch Butterfly lesson.
But I completely agree with Chris Lehmann‘s take that technology should be “ubiquitous, necessary, and invisible.” I’ve had the opportunity to visit the Science Leadership Academy twice in the past 2 years (EdubloggerCon 2010, plus last month’s NWP/ISTE HackJam session) – and both times left feeling the need to crusade back in my district to push harder for technology integration within the core curriculum (and dumping MS Office as the measuring stick for “computer proficiency”).
Looking ahead to a time when the teacher layoffs have stopped and rehiring and hiring in back full swing, I will advocate, starting at the elementary level, to stop trapping technology in a room.
And while technology remains a stand-alone, I commit to continuing my campaign against computer time as drill time. I think a reasonable request of site administrators would be to supply me with the research that justifies the ‘drill ‘n kill’ model. I’ll continue to share the research that guides my push for ALL students having access to 21st century skills, such as the Edutopia reports on tech and ELLs that references Margaret Hawkins’ (…students don’t really acquire language by performing computer tasks divorced from an authentic learning environment…) research.
In your school districts, is technology still trapped in a room? If yes, I’d love to hear your take on that situation. If not, please share how your district implemented the change.