(If you are wondering about the title, follow the Dangerously Irrelevant link.)
I am getting ready to go back to work at school in the next couple of weeks. As usual, I am pretty excited to be getting back to work. For me, it's something like most kids feel when they start getting back to school, except I usually don't need the new clothes, shoes and backpack to get ready.
I am excited because my building is finally making some strides on a 1:1 initiative. The roll-out is going to be painfully slow (3 years!) but it is happening. We may be the last district in the neighborhood to get rolling on this as well.
I believe the building I am in is ready for the nuts and bolts of 1:1 computing. The teachers have a pretty good handle on software and know what they need to know there.
I think the next conversations must be about what it means to be connected to the biggest collection of knowledge the world has ever known? What does it mean to be a citizen in this world where we are this connected? Are there some things we should be doing to stay safe? Are we so safe that we aren't learning anything? Are we really prepared for students who know different things than their peers because of their access to information to ideas from all over the world? Will our students be able to find their way in this new world after graduation.
Those other questions are more important than the basic how-to we have had.
I think if I have to sit through one more session of "how to use (put the name of your favorite word processor here)" I will be sick. I want the revolution. Now.
Maybe it is because I am a child of the 60s.
We have come a long way in computing in my life time. My high school had a visionary enough math department, that we had computer time. No we didn't have a computer, we had time on a computer. You got approval to go use the computer from the math teacher, went upstairs to the teacher's lounge, waved politely to the teachers that were getting their nicotine fix and hurried through the cloud of smoke to the storage space where they kept the teletype machine. Once your breathing came back to normal, you punched your teletype, fed it into the machine, which dialed-up the computer at the nearest college and the teletype put your project in cue. Your project then waited in line with everyone else's. The next day, with any luck, your math teacher would be able to hand you the print out of your project.
Mr. Mutzenberger, my math teacher at the time, would say that computers are going to change your life. They will speed-up all the math in your life and make your life easier.
It was very easy to think Mr. Mutzenberger was kidding when he said that. I may have been slow at math, but I could pretty much figure out my math problems faster with my number 2 pencil than with this computer arrangement. Much faster.
With their new Chromebooks kids will be thinking I am nuts when I take out my number 2 pencil.
I guess what I am trying to say is the tools are there. We need to expect teachers to use them. I can't think of one entry level job that you are not expected to use a computer. Why aren't we using them more in education? If you are in a leadership position, it is time to start raising your expectations about technology use and assuring that everything is been done to assure the networks and computers work well. I'm not so sure this effort needs to start with "this is a mouse" anymore.
We may finally be adding computers to education, but I am not so sure there is going to be a big huge change in the content in the conversations at school. Math will still be about numbers. Reading and writing will still be about ideas. Science will still be about figuring out how things work. There is a whole list of big concepts that will still continue. But about that change, Mr. Mutzenberger was right.