The creation of new technology seems to be increasing exponentially, leaving some consumers with the burden of choosing between a new iPad, MacBook Pro, Gateway NV7915u, or perhaps an Asus Eee PC 1005PR for their personal computing needs.
Meanwhile, technology is lacking in schools around the country, and many students who cannot afford these options also do not even have access to these gadgets at school. This is proving to be a major disadvantage in the education and character building of the young minds in our country.
A recent study by Project RED: Revolutionizing Education has reliably shown that under the right conditions in the classroom, technology can reduce drop out rates, improve student achievement, and even curb disciplinary issues.
However, just having a computer in the classroom will not garner these results. Project RED also found that 80% of schools that do have computers under-utilize the technology they have purchased.
How can computers be used effectively? Here’s what RED named as its Key Implementation Factors or Best Practices (in school-speak):
• Intervention classes (Reading intervention, special education, Title I, and English Language Learners): Technology is integrated into every class. Individualized learning through technology helps struggling students.
• Principal enables teachers’ Professional Learning, encourages collaboration and leads change management. Good principals give teachers the tools they need to teach in a new environment.
• Games/Simulations and Social Media – Students utilize technology daily. Leveraging the curiosity and highly social nature of students keeps them in school.
• Daily use of technology in core subject area classes. Personalized learning with technology engages students.
• Online Assessment: Frequent pinpointing of areas for improvement help students learn.
What about schools who cannot yet afford this?
India recently unveiled an iPad-like tablet computer that is expected to hit the market in 2011 with a $35 price tag. That’s a ridiculously low price, one that could make technology possible for every student, as long as it’s durable and reliable.
One Laptop Per Child also recently talked up its upcoming $99 laptop with claims that it could “eliminate the need for students to buy and carry bound textbooks and an array of other tools.”
That’s great news since stuffed backpacks can weigh in the upwards of 20lbs! Dropping off some of that backpack weight for a carry-all personal computer will leave students muscle to support their burgeoning brains!
And for those schools that are already tech-savvy, a Portland company called GammaPoint LLC has created a generic iPhone application that can help school curriculum and lessons be more accessible to parents; parents will be able to access up to date information about their child’s school right from their phone.
Maybe Project RED’s next study should look at the benefits of parent technology involvement on student performance. Family support can have a huge influence on student achievement; I bet there will be some interesting correlations with technological involvement, too.
The new film Waiting for Superman by the creators of An Inconvenient Truth, highlights the growing disparity and imminent call to action necessary for the United States to improve its educational system. Is technology the Superman we’ve been waiting for? Technology is certainly part of the equation, maybe the central nervous system of said Superman.
How are STC schools using technology?