Critical Analysis #1.0

In the course of my career, I have found that technology helps to facilitate learning and self esteem. I have observed that many school districts treat technology as more of a luxury then a necessity. I would argue that having technology in today's classrooms most certainly should be viewed as a necessity, essential to providing students with the necessary skills needed to be successful in their future academic and adult lives. Therefore, school districts need to understand why technology should be given high priority for contemporary classrooms.

In my classroom, the majority of my students bring to class an intrinsic knowledge of technology. They routinely use technology at home such as Computers, iPods, Smart phones and Video games. They use these devices to text, surf the web and to interact on social media sites such as YouTube, Face Book and Twitter. My students' favorite information source is without question, the internet. Their first question to me most mornings is whether we will be using the computers today… not typically a question I get about our textbooks. They are always so eager to get an opportunity to get on the web. While information in textbooks is outdated the day it's been printed and is limited to text and a picture or two, the internet is constantly being updated and is most always current. As an example, I may ask my students to spend 20 minutes exploring a topic, say for example: Dachshunds.

If my students sole resource is a textbook it may contain a picture or two of a dachshund, along with a few paragraphs describing them. On the other hand, my students can use the internet to view thousands of dachshund video clips, audio bytes, podcasts, pictures and many other interactive formats to help them learn about dachshunds. They can even view YouTube videos of people's dachshunds performing tricks. This activity allows my students to absorb the information in a fun, interactive format that embodies characteristics of an Emergent Curriculum which encourages students to take responsibility for their knowledge (Bloom,2007). Posner (2004) suggests that students are motivated to learn when they are given the opportunity to create and explore in the same cultural framework they are accustomed to at home.

While this example demonstrates how technology can transform traditional teacher led instruction to student led instruction, studies have shown that technology plays an even more dramatic role with socioeconomically disadvantaged students (Mouza, 2008). I have witnessed this effect in my classroom with some of my own students who fit this category. In some of these instances, students may not have access to technology at home and feel disconnected from their peers. In my years of teaching I have observed how the use of computers in cooperative groups builds community through social interactions, which promotes collaboration and sharing. While these socioeconomically disadvantaged students were rather unmotivated with traditional books, they seemed much more engaged and excited when using the computers we have available once each week. In the above example, technology really did act as a means of breaking down social barriers and facilitating the learning process.

Due to the lack of allocated funds by the school district, old technology is not replaced or adequately supported. A real travesty, as Technology use permeates all aspects of our lives. Without a firm commitment to provide students access we are unable as educators to meet the needs of our students in the 21st century. A possible solution to this problem that is being explored by my school district is a program called "Bring Your Own Technology" (BYOT). BYOT allows students to bring their own Laptops, Smart phones, iPods and iPads, all of which allow them access to the internet, freeing them from having to await availability of school provided technology. Another possible approach to this problem would be a financial investment from a large corporate sponsor. This scenario would provide needed funds for the purchase of technology and would also be an investment into the future workforce of our society.

As an example, the Chandler Unified School District (CUSD) has partnered with Intel Corporation. Intel provides funding, equipment and volunteers to provide and implement technology in the district's classrooms. Intel benefits from this by receiving tax breaks, community goodwill and a better prepared and trained future workforce. This scenario is a win-win for both Intel, CUSD and the students.

One of the quotes that personifies the landscape upon which I have chosen to build my classroom is "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, but teach a man how to fish and you'll feed him for a lifetime". I have chosen to teach students how to learn so they will have the skill sets needed to learn for a lifetime. The use of technology is a key component in my accomplishing this goal. Technology in schools helps to level the playing field for all socioeconomic groups and provides the necessary interactions and skills for all my students to work and succeed in today's and tomorrow's global society.

References:
Bloom, J. (2007). Emergent Curriculum. Retrieved June 15, 2012 from http://schoolsteachersparents.wikidot.com/analysis:emergcurr

Mouza, C. (2008). Learning with Laptops: Implementation and outcomes in an urban, under-privileged school. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 40(4), 467-469.

Posner, G. J. (2004). Analyzing the Curriculum (3rd ed.). Boston: McGraw Hill.

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