School principals across the country are attempting to incorporate technology into their classrooms. They are applying for federal stimulus money to purchase SMART Boards and trying to achieve 1-1 computing status in their classrooms. These purchases will put more technology in the classroom, driving home the point to our students that our world now relies on technology and that it is acceptable if they do as well.
I recently used a chat room in class to facilitate a class discussion, thinking little of the fact that we were all right there and could have been actually speaking to one another. How can I then turn around and be upset with the students who are instant messaging across the classroom, texting with students in other classes, or tweeting about the class? Haven’t I used technology in a way that seems to promote this type of behavior? I meant to deliver a lesson using contemporary modes of communication, but I delivered a mixed message about appropriate use of technology.
Too little money is being put towards educating teachers on how to incorporate technology into their lessons, how to use technology to stay connected with their students, and how to encourage students to use technology in academic settings as readily as they do in their social lives. As an educator, I am unprepared to incorporate technology to the level that I believe would engage my students to embrace it as a viable academic tool. I need training, models, and encouragement, not just the latest tools, and I believe this is what my students need as well.
Michael Hildebrandt holds a master’s degree in special education and is a certified teacher of students with moderate disabilities. He currently teaches study skills, instructs language arts tutorials, and writes grants for Landmark School in Beverly, Massachusetts, which serves students with language-based learning disabilities.