Imagine you are waiting on your first shipment of brand new microcomputers! The year is 1983 and yes, those microcomputers are Bell and Howell Apple II’s with marvelous green monochrome monitors, or was it gold? I carefully unpack and set up our first Title I funded computer lab and unwrap our 5¼” floppy disks from MECC. With no NCLB requirements nipping at our heels, we step boldly into the future with our students… confident that we are preparing them for the world they will enter upon college graduation.
Little did I know that when our kindergarten students graduated in 1995 the Internet would just be gaining steam, revolutionizing the way we access information, communicate and do business around the world. By the time these students fully launched their careers, they were carrying more computing power in their pockets than the sum total of all our computers in that little Apple II lab in Houston, Texas.
From Basic programming and MECC Number Munchers to sophisticated digital learning content and tools, technology’s potential to impact learning has grown in leaps and bounds. As I traverse the country, visiting school districts from Michigan to Florida, I am struck by an odd contrast. During the past 28 years, while technology continues to grow in sophistication, we are still struggling to realize it’s true potential in our classrooms.
But wait – this year something feels different. Across the country a new movement is gaining steam, perhaps as a result of budget cuts, community pressure or a push to provide our students with 21st Century tools and curriculum. 'Bring Your Own Device and Technology' (BYOD, BYOT) programs and one-to-one initiatives are providing students with unprecedented access to technology.
Let’s be sure we learn from our past. Will we fail to capitalize on major technological advances, or will we make the most of this opportunity and find a way to harness technology’s full potential to transform learning. This time our students are leading the way… Will we follow their lead or be left behind?