Sunday, November 21, 2010

$ for Technology

Many of my MSU classes have shown how useful technology can be in the classroom especially for students with disabilities. Modern ideas such as using ipods, wikis, texting, blogging, Elluminate, making videos(the list is endless) expand education options. However, a concern that I have and a reminder to my classmates is where the money comes from to pay for all of these things.

It's nice when the school can afford to provide all these things and lend them to the students. However, for most teachers and students, that's merely a dream. What are the other options? As a teacher, you pay for it. Okay, some teachers can afford buying extras such as paper, snacks, fun science experiment supplies, etc., but I don't know any who can afford a classroom set of technological devices for students such as ipads or laptops. So, then that leaves it to the parents to pay for them, and I would not advise telling parents that they need to buy an expensive piece of equipment. This is especially true since you don't know what "expensive" is for a family. Even if you think you know based on the student's performance, clothes, attitude, you could be dead wrong. The last option I know of is writing grant proposals. This could work depending on what you're asking for and if those who you are asking decide that it's worth their money. So, obviously the downside is that they could say, "No," but it's worth trying.

Another point I'd like to make and wonder about is if the school owns the hardware, how do you manage accountability for damages and lost items? Also, don't forget that some students may already be competent in using a certain device whereas others will need much more help and guidance. Of course, this is the case with anything done in school. It's just something to remember.

Of course, as a teacher, you could make sure and that the projects you are assigning use devices which every student already has. Provided, you know for sure that every student has one.

Another option is to stick with internet only assignments, but even with the internet, you cannot assume that every student has access. For instance, let's say you have 25 students. Twenty of them have computers and high-speed internet access at home, great. Three of them have computers and internet access but it is unreliable, slow, and costs their parents $ per minute. The final two do not have computers or internet access. They can go to the public library but they live far away from it and would have to depend on their parents driving them there. Even this assumes that they have a car or transportation access in addition to having the time to make the trip during library hours. I have heard people claim that everybody has internet access and shrug off this issue easily. I think they would be surprised at how much it can actually be a problem. I speak from personal experience when I say that it can add extra stress. I had to worry about my internet access and all the while think about how most of my classmates did not have to stress about it at all. Some even had their own computers in their room! This made me feel the economic differences between me and my classmates more than usual.