This week, I took the opportunity to observe two different middle schools in two different districts in Colorado Springs, Colorado. These schools (which will be known as Middle School #1 and Middle School #2) have a great deal of technology available for students and teachers. Because of this, instructional technology was evident and abundant throughout each school. One school, Middle School #2, seem to be on the rising use of the newest technology resource, iPads. Middle School #1 did not have iPads, however, it did have an abundant amount of resources and technology tools that were not available at Middle School #2. This is what I found:
H:\Masters Program\EDTC Technology Comparison.mht
Since I've recently become an iPad2 owner, it has become my obsession. So, as part of my focus during my school observations, I went with one question in mind: Are iPads in classrooms more effective than other technological tools?
In my opinion, iPads are the key to the educational future! Although Middle School #1 had an abundant amount of technological resources, which I saw used regularly and effectively, Middle School #2's iPads just seem to make the learning environment current and easier. The students were able to research a topic such as invertebrates. I watched as one student found a picture of a Mollusk while another student found the characteristics of Mollusks. Then they "bumped" each other's iPads and both iPads contained each student's research. This was done in a matter of minutes! I was completely amazed!
Middle School #1 seems to be on the iPad wavelength as well. The technology specialist at Middle School #1, recently wrote a grant to get eight iPads. These eight iPads will be distributed among a test group of teachers to use in their classrooms. This way, the school will be able to test iPad effectiveness in classroom instruction. It is decided that iPads are effective, then the school has a wish list for a mobile lab of 32 iPads to be used in classrooms. It makes sense that Middle School #1 plans to create mobile labs of iPads versus giving each student a device because Middle School #1 is three times the size of Middle School #2.
During my observations, I wasn't surprised by the technology resources used in classrooms because both these schools come from more affluent school districts. However, I was surprised by the amount of technology. Middle School #1 seemed to have a great deal more technical resources at hand than Middle School #2. Middle School #2 seems to have devoted most of its funds to iPads while Middle School #1 seems to have devoted its funds to everything else. Because of this Middle School #1 seems more well-rounded with a variety of technological tools; however Middle School #2 seems to more current with the newest type of technology to use classroom instruction. Since I saw two schools that seem to have an endless amount of technological resources, so I would like to look at school that has little to no technology available.
In my opinion, there are many pros and cons to technology. Pros include keeping classroom instruction current and relevant. It allows students to use the newest tools to learn as well as creates the ability to meet all students' special needs. Technology also allows communication among parents, teachers, and students to be faster. However, I think that Technology is decreasing students' social skills. Because of technology, many students don't know how to physically go talk to a teacher face to face. I've noticed that interpersonal skills seem to be decreasing among all students as well as parents and educators. The question is: "How do we balance technology without taking other things such as interpersonal/social skills away?"