Putting Technology in Schools: Think Before You Invest

If it’s possible to put new(er) technology into a school, should you do it?

Your first response was probably, “of course, if the money works.”

However, you’d be wrong.  Well…more accurately, you’d be right…most of the time.

See, “The Kenyan government is delivering on an election promise and has awarded a supply contract for 1.2 million laptops to be given to first year primary school students,” (Goodwin).  At first, there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong.  Why wouldn’t giving young students in a third world country laptops and access to the plethora of information that is available on the internet be wrong?  One fact: “75 percent of the population lack reliable access to electricity, the laptop roll out, although media sexy, is completely out of touch with reality,” (Goodwin).

Yes, you read that correctly.  “Only 2,037 of the targeted 20,368 schools that are to receive laptops are connected to the electrical grid,” (Goodwin).  Yup, that means that “90 percent of the children receiving these laptops will have no reliable means to power them and might realistically never turn them on,” (Goodwin).

Laptops, tablets, smartboards, and other educational technology devices can be a great investment for schools, providing the infrastructure for the technology is available.  I don’t just mean electricity (although that is pretty imperative); I mean the school infrastructure.  Teachers need to be trained on how to use the device, basic troubleshooting, and how it can be used specifically for their subject.  Students need to be trained on the device as well as basic troubleshooting.  Parents need to know what their responsibilities are and who to contact when they need help.

Too often technology is bought to “fix” a problem or bridge a gap in education.  Remember: technology is a tool, not a solution.

 

 

Goodwin, Phil. “Why Kenya’s School Laptops Program Is Not the Answer.” Web log post. ONE.org. ONE, 17 Mar. 2014. Web. 20 Mar. 2014.


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