I just read a comment about how unrealistic some of our expectations are for integrating technology into learning in public schools. I have 70 minutes each week in our computer lab and library and classroom computers accessible at other times. There are five computers for students in my room. Its not 1-1 but I imagine other classrooms might envy the situation. Its not enough though and it is always a transient resource.
I took one of the classroom laptops to a meeting this afternoon. Believe me, I almost took my own aging laptop to the meeting. I dislike reducing student access to these resources. The Dell laptop crashed on me twice. I think it is only two and a half years old. If this laptop or its twin die, I suspect we would not get a quick replacement. Schools eat resources quickly. It is all consumable. When something comes my way I try to make use of it.
A Fusion keyboard recently came my way. I assigned it to a bright student with writing difficulties. It was just an experiment to see if this nine-year-old could get his ideas down better if he did not have to struggle with fine motor control and letter reversals. Perhaps it is too soon to draw conclusions but he focused on his writing for twenty-five minutes without getting distracted. Its a first for me. The Fusion keyboard was going begging. People want iPads in their classrooms now. Well so do I, or perhaps some decent netbooks. There are no iPads at the moment so I will run this thing into the ground if it works for this student. I’ve done this sort of thing before. October 19th, 2007 I posted about nursing five Sun Micro-system stations along in my classroom by keeping a cupboard full of spares. When I moved out of that room the next teacher abandoned the project. Perhaps I should not be surprised but I get the impression most of us forage for resources of one sort or another.
Older technologies are still worth the hunt. I wonder how many of my colleagues remember there is a central resource center in our school division. After my Powerful Learning Practice meeting today I visited the resource center with my intern. There is a lot there and I think she went away with some fresh resources. Our computer lab is almost booked solid all week long. The library has plenty of free time. That is probably a very good thing. The librarian in me knows scheduled trips to the library make less sense than accessing the stacks when you need them. Still, it almost seems this learning resource is being overlooked a bit.
We need to forage for resources and we also need to keep foraging for new ideas. Some of them, like merit pay and finding based on school performance, should be passed over as quickly as possible. I’ll never stop listening or thinking about the possibilities though. The Fusion Keyboard may not meet my student’s needs but its worth a try. I introduced myself to the Powerful Learning Practice community with a link to a TimeGlider I built on my career. Someone quipped that they tried to move my retirement date. I hope he wanted to postpone it, not hasten it. I’m not watching the clock. I just added it because for the life of me, I can never remember the date. I’ve reached that stage in my career where people ask me sometimes. I feel foolish not knowing. I’m pretty caught up in all this wonderful learning still.