As much as I agree with my friend Chris Lehmann that “technology should be like oxygen: ubiquitous, necessary, and invisible,” we’re still a ways off from all of that. But if I forced you to choose the one of those three adjectives that we’re struggling with the most in schools, which would you select?
I think I might go with “necessary.” Seriously, how much of our practice in classrooms to we absolutely need technology to accomplish? Looking stuff up on the Google has pretty much replaced traditional research, no doubt. But beyond that? Is technology necessary to create the things we ask kids to create? (It might be more so if we dealt with things kids asked to create.) We could still do grades, take attendance, all the stuff the typical LMS stuff serves up. (We did all that before the LMS, remember.) And it’s nice to collaborate on Google Docs, but we did that before the Internet as well. Digital textbooks? To me, that’s all pretty ordinary stuff.
Technology should allow us to do the extraordinary, right? To connect live or asynchronously with people from all over the world. To publish stuff to a global audience. To make things, programs, artifacts, inventions that can’t be made in the analog world. To write in multimedia. To remix and create in new ways. To do “extra” stuff that you can’t do without the technology. That should be the bar.
I’m reminded of that when people start talking about Chromebooks and one to one programs. The price of Chromebooks can make the technology ubiquitous. And the low maintenance part can make it nearly invisible (though that has more to do with culture than technology.) And those are good steps.
What’s interesting is when I ask people who currently have MacBooks or full-fledged Windows laptops whether they would swap that device for a Chromebook, no one ever volunteers. That suggests that we know what we’re giving kids isn’t extraordinary. We’re pretty much making the ordinary digital.
Seriously, would love people to prove me wrong about that.
(Image credit: Ant Standring)