My high school used technology (computers, word processors, and Blackboard) extensively. I couldn’t turn in any hand written essays, I received all my assignments online and communicated with all my teachers via email. Yes, not many schools were doing this back in the early 2000s, but it worked for my small public high school of 400 in California.
Today, I see many schools trying to integrate technology within the classroom, but they’re doing it all wrong. Every school I’ve worked at (4 so far) has made technology an “event” during the school week. You’re allowed to use the laptops, iPads or computer lab only so many days a week and for only such and such programs. That isn’t incorporating technology within a classroom that’s just making technology a visitor, a delicacy, a change from the normal routine.
My high school incorporated technology to the point it was part of the everyday routine. They didn’t make a big deal about the use of technology like schools do today (“Today we’re doing Achieve3000 on our laptops so put away your books!”) and not a single assignment could be completed without using technology (whether it was to look up the assignment, to research, to actually complete the assignment or to communicate about clarification regarding the assignment).
Though we live in the age of technology and all our students have smartphones and tablets and maybe even the occasional laptop/desktop, students have a difficult time maneuvering the use of technology within the classroom. Because schools are using technology as an “event” students come to high school not knowing simple actions like proper typing or even logging off instead of shutting down.
On days we use technology, my students get so excited that they’ll be on laptops instead of the routine. This saddens me. They should be using technology seamlessly in their classes. Students should not be excited; this excitement shows how much of a novelty using technology to learn really is.
As a teacher, (and now that it’s winter break) I will be searching for ways to incorporate technology into every day use so that my students start to really explore the reality of the times. We don’t know what jobs they’ll hold in the future or what life will be like 10, 20, even 30 years from now. But I’ll bet that technology will continue to be a big part of life then. And that is why students should not view technology in the classroom as a novelty, but as a routine.
Disclaimer: I’m sure there are schools out there that have successfully incorporated technology within the school culture however, I have yet to experience it myself (obviously besides the high school I attended as a teenager).