I was listening to the WickedDecentLearning “Friday night Podcast” the other day and one of the guys used the term techno-realist.  At first it didn’t really mean much to me but as I continued reflect and just thinking things through, it occurred to me that this is the direction that I want to go in.  Become more realistic in what technology can actually do for me in my classroom.

I don’t believe that technology is the cure-all, end all that some might believe.  Technology to me is a tool that teachers should use to augment their teaching (one of the tools in the toolbelt), that has some extremely great points (great for differentiating instruction for all students – not just special education) and other benefits have been espoused liberally throughout the blogosphere and the web.

However, I do see some of the weaknesses:

Cost – Who pays…the taxpayer, the parent, corporations — who?  This is a huge obstacle no matter where you are located geographically.  Even though costs are coming down, in many cases it is still too expensive for all to have equitable/current equipment or access to the Internet.

Accessibility – To equipment or the Internet.  Schools, libraries and middle class homes (in most countries) have access to both, but as you look further down the economic scale, it becomes more difficult to have access to either.  Yeah people say the school has computers and access, but how old are the computers and what is the ratio of students/staff to computers. What time do most computer labs close down – how do the rural students get home? Lost of questions there.

Then they say students can go to the library after school to use their computers – the last time I attempted to use a library computer, I had to wait  1 1/2 hours to get on the computer and then only had 1/2 hour to do what I needed to do and I didn’t feel very comfortable with some of the people sitting next to me.  Students have a hard time focusing (feeling comfortable) and won’t have much time to get work done there.  Most homes only have one computer and how many people competing for time on that computer?

How many schools out there are actually 1:1?  It is a great idea, but the reality is that most of us have to “attempt” to sign up the media center for class use and hope that you can get it and not be pre-empted by administration, hope enough computers are working so the class can do the project, etc.

Time – It takes time to learn and teach technology, time that in today’s environment is expected to worry about AYP (I am lucky where I work, it is not as much a concern – Special Purpose School – a different rant) .  Teachers has to make choices – content area vs technology and they are taught and hired to teach the content area.  So integrating technology into the content area is an added duty, that has been added to an already full plate.

Attitude – Teachers, Administration, Parental, Student, Government and Corporate attitudes towards technology is not focused!  Each seems to have it own idea of how technology should be used in the classroom and elsewhere.  This impacts teachers attitudes towards implementing technology in their classrooms.

Finally – teachers cannot abdicate to technology, it is not a magic bullet, teachers much still teach and make personal relationships with their students.

After all this negativity or is it realistic view of technology – it is still a great tool.   I still strongly advocate for taking the time to change the attitudes, to find funding, so that there will be more accessibility to technology in the classroom.  Because like it or not if our students are not technologically proficient (basic reading, writing and math are a given), their future ability to participate fully in society both socially and economically will be negatively impacted.

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