The dream vs. the reality

Reading the 2010 K-12 Horizon Report is a motivational experience for me.  It makes me think of all the things we could be doing with students using the free, Web 2.0 tools available right now.  This has been my dream: to empower students through technology to become independent learners that are connected to the real world.  However, changes must occur in K-12 education for this dream to be realized.  What will it take to make it happen?

Policy changes are needed in many school districts to allow students to fully utilize tools such as aggregators, blogging and social bookmarking at school.  Currently, internet use is very tightly controlled and new plug-ins or services (such as the Diigo toolbar) cannot be installed by users.  Getting permission to install something is an arduous task which requires many hours of effort to go through the proposal and review process.  Most teachers don’t have the time or energy to endure such trials.  Innovation must come from leadership at the top, not just from teachers at the bottom.

Many districts have access issues.  The true potential of personalized learning using Web 2.0 tools cannot be realized until there is greater access to computers for students in school.  Students may only visit the computer lab once every couple of weeks in a course, which is not enough time.  Mobile technology may be the answer to this dilemma, but that would require policy changes. One to one computing is the dream, but in this current economic climate, implementation is unlikely.

Those in charge of IT in the district must have the foresight and vision to select emerging technologies, make them available to teachers and provide training.  District IT leaders need to be visionary leaders, willing to take some calculated risk to sow the seeds that will reap great rewards in teaching and learning outcomes.  If only…

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