I love technology. I find it fascinating, possibly addicting; I may even have a problem. It was 2 years since I was hired at the school where I currently teach. I had never used a smartboard but knew of them. While I was setting up my room for that first year I toured the school and noticed a smartboard tucked away at the back of the library collecting dust; it was love at first sight. A week after school had started I made my way back to the library to find that smartboard staring at me as if to say “Please take me and use me, I’m yours, all yours.” So I did just that and our relationship has blossomed into a thing of beauty.
But like all good things, I wonder about the end. As much as I see the current value in its ability to enhance music education in my classes, I know it comes at a cost. I’m concerned that with the rate of change in technology, educational institutions may be making costly mistakes by investing massive amounts of money on this temporary technology.
Is your school district leveraging its technology effectively? Do the costs justify the benefits? What does your technology infrastructure cost in terms of money and time? Unfortunately, few district administrators can answer these questions with any certainty. They don’t understand the real costs of developing and maintaining computer networks or the benefits of planned or proposed technology projects in measurable terms. For the most part, they base their technology decisions on their perception of the value of the technology. (Kaestner, 2007)
As well, how are we measuring the value of these technologies to come up with our financial figures?
Without a disciplined approach to measuring the value of technology, the perceived value becomes more a matter of attitude. The superintendent of one Oregon school district set a technology agenda early in his tenure when he realized the minor role technology played in his schools compared to the status it held at his former district in the technology-rich Silicon Valley.
“I was concerned about the lack of technology use in classrooms,” he said. “The first thing I did was implement a wireless network and start laying out plans to integrate technology into the curriculum.”
The superintendent in a nearby district said he wasn’t sure what the fuss is all about. “The use of technology with student learning is really over-hyped and I see little evidence of enhanced student learning through the use of computers, which are costly to purchase and support.” (Kaestner, 2007)
By the time teachers become competent at using smartboards, their time might be up (for the smartboards that is, not the teachers). As was mentioned one day in our Inquiry and ICT class, Smart technologies is apparently losing market shares and there are some schools that are still struggling to get teachers on board with the whole idea of using these tools.
I will continue to use my smartboard everyday as I have been for the past two years until such time that a technology is introduced that will better enhance the needs of my instruction and student learning. Whatever it may be, hopefully it is chosen judiciously as we continue to ponder the price we pay for love.
Kaestner, R. (2007). Gauging Technology Costs and Benefits. School Administrator, 64(5), 28-33. Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.lib.ucalgary.ca/ehost/detail?sid=7812824d-7f91-4e04-9a7b-f0e7dbf4d351%40sessionmgr10&vid=1&hid=24&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=ehh&AN=24883106