It’s a strange time in education, for many reasons. One of which is the evolution of digital technologies that aid instruction and learning. What once were fringe methods only a few teachers used to enhance learning experiences, have now become expected and even mandated in most schools. This is creating a pinch for resources for those districts not yet fully invested in 1:1 or BYOD initiatives. Here’s how it looks in my school:
For the past several years, I was probably one of the most frequent, perhaps the most frequent user of our school’s technology. For the past few years, we have had access to two iPad carts, one and a half laptop carts, an iPod cart, two computer labs, and at least a few dozen computers in the library. In truth, I was pretty spoiled. I have, until this year, had pretty much free reign over any technology I wanted to use with my students. In fact, at one point, I had a class that met in the computer lab because it was blocked out for me. Things were good. Without hoarding anything, I was pretty confident that I could get something into my classroom nearly any day, even if on short notice. I started checking in the morning to see if something was open, feeling like it was a waste to see those resources sit unused for a day. I was able to pilot many web 2.0 tools, the flipped classroom, and some other app-based tools.
Simultaneously, our administration has been really pushing digital technology (as well they should), and more and more teachers have been using said technology. I couldn’t be happier, and the students are all the better for it.
The problem now is that I can’t reliably get access to technology for more than a day or two at a time reliably unless I have things checked out weeks in advance. I have reserved one lab for Fridays, and I feel guilty even hoarding that for my students, but it is a necessity. Additional time is scarce, and if I were to block things out for a longer period of time, it would be unfair to other teachers.
The odd and ironic result of the increased interest in digital learning (some of which I had preached, helped, and trained others to do), is that I am not really able to do the things I would have been able to do in previous years due to greater demand. If anything, I have used less technology in the classroom this year. That saddens me.
There is a lot of talk and planning going into the somewhat imminent decision to move to 1:1 in the near future. Many in our district believe that could be next year, but the decision has not been formally made as yet. In the meantime, I find myself taking meticulous notes about how I would do things next year in a 1:1 environment, while at the same time using more traditional techniques this year in the absence of more access to technology.
I can only assume this is an interesting transition in many districts that are stretching the infrastructure of their districts without having fully committed to the 1:1 investment. I can only think it’s a good thing overall, but it does create some growing pains for those of us who have been teaching with technology for some time.