Friday, December 28, 2018

Not Ubiquitous Tech - Appropriate Tech

Too many schools fall into that trap of 1:1 computing. The idea is every student needs to have a laptop/tablet, or there will arise a "digital divide" between the rich and the poor.

To this end, schools cooperate with Apple, Google, and Microsoft to bring in technology that is linked to those products. A captive audience, that will provide - at little cost - a ton of info on the browsing habits, interests, academic success, and socio-economic status of thousands of young people. That data collection is embedded into the framework of the "gift" or purchase. The schools get the tech at a discount.

The real cost is to give tech companies access to your kids.

That access also helps the software/hardware companies to teach - seamlessly embedded into the curriculum - kids how to use their products. In effect, paying the tech companies to let them hook your kids into use of their products - for life.

There are open-source or lower cost alternatives for Office Suite (LibreOffice), Google (DuckDuckGo), the OS (Linux), Chrome (Brave), and other applications. But, if the kids are first taught how to use the branded product, they will be less likely to change in the future.

The fact is, some classes will use computers very little, or only limited applications. For others, it's more essential.

In Social Studies, Math, or Languages, tech apps might be used, but having every student with their own device is simply not necessary. A shared laptop cart may well be sufficient to handle the limited needs of those classes.

For homework, a check-out system for laptops/computers to augment access for students without a home computer would be sufficient. Much of the work that is needed could be accomplished with a Smartphone. There is generally access (thanks to Obamaphones) in even the poorest households.

In Science is where the technology is needed - and, most of that is for the Physical Sciences. There are Biology and Earth Science applications, but most teachers don't use them. In the Physical Sciences, the data collection probe systems justify the technology purchase. Not necessarily a laptop for each student, but at least a classroom set.

I'm a big technology user. But, I've seen classrooms use technology simply as a replacement for paper and pencil activities. The downside of that is teachers spend an inordinate amount of time re-directing students off games, shopping for shoes (it's a FAR bigger thing than you would believe), or watching videos (yes, they are SUPPOSED to be blocked, but kids collaborate to get the work-arounds).

We should not be aiming for Ubiquitous Tech, but Appropriate Tech.

1 comment:

cmblake6 said...

I will freely admit to not being the hottest computer jock in town. That said, if I am taking classes to learn this tech, I'm there for the knowledge.