Yogi Berra once said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”
That’s especially true in the world of technology today, but I think we can, at least, predict what the hot topics will be as we head into 2012. Most important is how we respond to these issues. Let’s take a look at some of my top picks which should be on every administrator’s radar.
BYOD – Bring your own device: We have been talking about 1:1 computing for a number of years with very little progress other than a few pilot projects. With the current budget situation I don’t foresee any changes in funding coming forward to make this a reality. If we truly embrace getting devices into student’s hands we must look past the restraints of budget. By embracing a “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) model we will succeed in getting devices into a lot more student hands in the classroom this year rather than have the devices sitting at home because of current school policy that forbids their use on campus. I spoke of this earlier this year in a TBLOGICAL post called Digital Deprivation. All students having access to digital devices capable of enhancing their educational experience is becoming even more realistic when you consider cheaper and cheaper devices such as the Kindle Fire, inexpensive netbooks, tablets, and Smart Phones on the market today.
Key topics to address: BYOD Policies, Wireless Access, Bandwidth, Devices supported
24/7 Access to Information: Just a couple of years ago sites like Khan Academy were seen as a novelty. A few tech savvy teachers might download a video to help explain a topic or give students a link to follow if they needed extra help with a concept. Today it is no longer a novelty to see a short video clip on a subject. Just go to YouTube and type in a topic you would like to know from replacing a valve cover gasket on your car to DNA replication. These sites and videos are growing at a phenomenal rate, both proprietary and open source.
Key Topics to Address: Teaching students to discriminate the good from the bad, Providing Open Access at School,
24/7 Delivery of Course Content: Yes, this does relate to 24/7 access, but takes it a step further. Not only can students find information anytime and from any place, they can also elect to take all of their courses this way. What that says to me is that if we don’t have it, they will go somewhere else to get it.
I recently had an opportunity to hear Dr. David Hagland, Director of Educational Options with the Riverside Unified School District, speak. He has found that students don’t necessarily want to take a course completely online, but rather like to expand the classroom and teacher’s influence to an online blended format that includes lectures, class notes, videos, et cetera posted for student access before and after the traditional classroom lesson, and to have 21st Century technology tools available in the classroom. For example, as I sit here typing this post in Google Docs, I know that I can access it on my computer at home, my iPad on the road or even share it with colleagues to get input and advice. I’ve also clipped a few articles from the web into my Evernote account to reference as I write. All of these tools and resources need to be incorporated into the teaching and learning environments of our students.
Key topics to address: Learning platforms/management systems, online storage capabilities, teacher training for blended instruction, access to information.
School Libraries: I know this prediction will not be a popular one, but the changing purpose and function of the school library needs to be addressed. Schools are no longer getting the best bang for their buck when it comes to building and sustaining the traditional school library. In a recent conversation with Dr. Devin Vodicka, Assistant Superintendent of Business for the Carlsbad Unified School District, we were discussing the new high school they were in the process of building. He stated that after much discussion on whether or not to build a traditional library it came down to the following question, “If we are really having such a difficult time deciding whether or not to build and stock a new library with books in the traditional way, we already know the answer, which is no. It’s just that it’s uncomfortable for our generation to picture a library without rows and rows of books.”
Are we still making decisions on what is comfortable for us or best for today and tomorrow’s students. I’m not saying we need to do away with the library, just look at its role and function in our schools. It will always be needed as a place to meet for that first date using the excuse as getting together to work on a school project.
Key Topics to address: Digital books/textbooks and a system to checkout them out, installation of access points for students to connect at school, mobile devices, workstations