Door open or shut?

Posted by Michael Simkins on May 31, 2014

Door ajar“Mr. S, Mr. S, what should we do?”

That was the question my fifth-grade students asked after the second of two school assemblies we attended in close succession.  The first was about earthquake preparedness and the speaker told the kids to sleep with their bedroom doors open.  In the second, the fire marshal admonished everyone to sleep with their bedroom doors closed.   Good grief!  What’s a ten-year-old to do?

I was reminded of that dilemma recently when, on the same day, I read two interesting articles, one entitled “6 Shifts in Education Driven by Technology” and the other, “Instead of Getting Ready for the Tech Revolution, Schools Are Scaling Back.”

The first article summarized the latest Horizon Report, which predicts that within the next two years, technology will drive us all to “rethink the role of the teacher.” Teachers will be expected to be adept at all sorts of technology, adapt it to instructional uses, and use technology to extend learning “beyond the traditional school day.”

The second, on the other hand, proclaims that “The promise of digital education is still out of reach for most American students.” Why?  School Internet connections are too slow.  Even with access, kids are still sharing devices, the devices they share are old, and the bulk of new spending on technology is going into efforts to get ready for the new Common Core assessments.

My hunch?  For years we’ve known, “What gets tested gets taught.”  Now, we have a rhyming corollary: What the test needs gets bought.

The upside?  We really don’t have to test all the time, so I’m betting teachers will leverage any technology that may have been purchased primarily to get ready for Smarter Balanced or PARCC and make it serve a higher educational purpose.



Taking the “Mist-ery” Out of Cloud Computing

Posted by Donna Hackner on May 17, 2011

During the late 1980’s, while working on my Masters in Educational Computing degree at Pepperdine University, I came across this quotation:

The next schism that will exist between those that have and those that do not have is access to information.

That schism has since become known as the “digital divide.”  This quotation has been the catalyst for me and my involvement in educational technology. Every student should have access to resources available on the World Wide Web, and countless debates and much energy have been put into providing access.  The solution is simple: cloud computing.  I call it the “great leveler” because it presents a solution for leveling the playing field and providing  access for students.

What is cloud computing?  And what are the implications for educators?  Cloud computing in education allows resources to be equitably accessible to students without worrying about the many technical aspects of technology. Basically, resources needed by students and teachers are maintained on a server elsewhere—i.e. the “cloud”—and are accessible through a portal.

The advantages to schools, especially charter schools, are great in terms of  savings in the cost of hardware, software and tech support.  Academically, cloud computing provides 24/7 access to students, parents and teachers.  And most importantly, as stated before, it levels the playing field and allows access to critical learning resources.

Learn more about cloud computing.  The video Cloud Computing Plain and Simple, by Santee School District,  does a good job at explaining it.