Money and the Lack Thereof

Some people labor under the impression that teachers are afraid of using technology.

That might be true in some cases….in fact I have met quite a few teachers who feel that way: that with which we are not comfortable is not easily embraced.  But I am beginning to see more and more that fear is not where all of the technology discussion goes.

It goes to money.

Teachers don’t go into teaching for the money (unless I am missing something really big), but to work with students.  To help mold generations.  It’s awfully hard to do that without money to purchase instructional aids, the base of which is a computer.

Bill Ferriter is crabby about this subject, and he should be.  His blog, The Tempered Radical, addresses teacher issues on all levels, and he is dead-on with this post.  Read it and let me know what you think!  Are you in this boat?  Do you agree or disagree?

Dawn
dawn@learnersedgeinc.com

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7 Responses to Money and the Lack Thereof

  1. Tom Butler says:

    While I think that money may be a part of the problem, I think it’s only a small part of the problem. The fact is, and Bill alludes to it in his blog, many if not all of the students in his classroom possess a computer more powerful than the two desktops he has, and these computers are perfectly suited for the kind of research he wants his students to do. The problem is not lack of resources, but policies that prohibit students from using the computers they already have. Yes, I’m talking about smartphones.

    No Bill, IT doesn’t have to set up an enhanced wireless network so students can access data on their smartphones – they have access without IT needing to spend money on an enhanced infrastructure. No Dawn, the school doesn’t have to spend any money on purchasing more computers for students- the students’ parents thought it was so important they already bought them. I do agree, however, that some resources need to be invested in technology that goes beyond personal computing – interactive whiteboards come to mind. And maybe a little spent on handheld resources for the few students who don’t have cell phones.

    I think the bigger issue is policies that were created when cell phones could only make calls – and these policies haven’t been updated. I remember when the policy in school was that we could only use fountain pens – not those new-fangled ballpoint pens (yes, I’m that old). Thankfully that policy was updated. Why not update our cell phone policies?

    I’ll bet that in 15 minutes, Bill could come up with 12 ways to discourage inappropriate cell phone use and appropriate monitoring in his class, and, in 15 more minutes come up with a set of rules that the class developed. And the last 30 minutes of his class would be incredible as the students asked questions and researched the answers.

    Before we start discussing what we don’t have, perhaps we should start taking a creative look at using what we already have.

    • Interesting, Tom – But honestly – it gets pretty tiring to always have to fight the fight that schools should be fighting, and not teachers – that more money is needed to supplement instruction, as well as using the tools to which some (let’s be honest and understand that many students do not have smart phones) students have access. I completely agree with you – we have to understand that technology is required and a given in 21st century education – and we have to be able to adjust our policies and our pocketbooks to make sure that all students have the tools they need to compete and succeed in this world.
      Thanks, as always, for your comments!

  2. Interesting conversation, y’all.

    A few thoughts:

    (1). I honestly believe that the barrier to integrating technology into my classroom isn’t the number of devices that our school can provide. I think it is the hesitance–even resistance—to opening up our school’s wifi network to student devices.

    And while that will take some additional cash investments—-someone has to be paid to figure out how to configure the network for safe guest access and we may even need to upgrade the capacity of the network to handle an increase in the number of connected devices—the investments will be a drop in the bucket compared to what we would need to spend in order to purchase enough devices to outfit every classroom.

    The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of my kids have a wireless ready device—netbook, computer, handheld gaming system, iTouch—that they could bring to school. We don’t need devices…we need access to the existing network.

    (2). While I think smartphones will eventually be ubiquitous in schools—and while their levels of penetration may be higher in high schools—their not a solution in my sixth grade classroom yet. Almost 70% of my students have cell phones and 58% of the cell kids have unlimited texting plans but none have plans that provide Internet access.

    That’s an expensive investment for a family to make—especially when they’ve got more than one kid.

    Perhaps with time, that will change…but for now, it’s not a realistic option in my room.

    Any of this make sense?
    Bill

    • Thanks for your comment, Bill – glad you jumped in, since we are talking about you! I would be willing to bet that the biggest obstacle you have to overcome is the resistance to technology- whether it be to spend the money installing wi-fi or convincing teachers and administrators that it would be worth the while (and at the end of it all, BEST FOR KIDS).

    • Tom Butler says:

      It makes perfect sense Bill. It sounds like you problem is with IT – that IT would rather prohibit access than figure out how to make it work for you.

      It doesn’t have to be that way. In my last school, any student with a wireless device could request, and receive, a password to get on the wireless network. The network had an active, managed firewall to prohibit sites deemed inappropriate (blacklist – plus others that the students discovered from time to time). Parents and students signed an Acceptable Use Policy. Students were trained to use the back button and report inappropriate sites. Overall it worked because everyone wanted to make it work. Sure it took time to set up the firewall, and there was a cost involved. It took additional time to manage the network (about 30 minutes/week). It worked for us because we all had the same vision, the same mission. As stated elsewhere in this blog – it’s all about the students. When we lose that focus, well … we’ve forgotten why we’re here. [Full Disclosure – I was both the principal of the school and the IT].

      There are solutions available to allow students to access the internet in a manner that protects the school from lawsuits, complies with NCLB guidelines, and does what you’d like to do. But it takes research and work, and saying “No” is a lot easier.

  3. Tom Butler says:

    Oops. That should be “your” and not “you” in the first sentence. My apologies.

  4. Tom Butler says:

    Here is an interesting perspective on using technology in a classroom of ELL students: http://newamericamedia.org/2011/06/mobile-devices-in-classroom-give-english-learners-a-leg-up.php. Of course, this still doesn’t resolve Bill Ferriter’s problem with IT allowing access to the wireless network. Perhaps, knowing that it is working elsewhere in the US, would help IT be more open to change?

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