If you would have asked me what the world could be like in 2020 when I was a senior in high school, in the year 2006, I would have answered differently than I would today. I got my first cell phone when I was in 10th grade. My family just got cable internet instead of dial up when I was in 12th grade. I was just starting to download mp3s instead of buying CDs. All of these changes in technology were big to me and it seemed like a lot changed in 3 years. At that time I could not believe all of the technological advances that were happening.
However, my school district today does not look much different than when I was in high school 10 years ago. Sure some students have their own devices now. Some class rooms have new projectors or more computers. Some new technology like Google Apps or Schoology now exist. But the day to day shuffle within the school does not look all that much different. I’m not sure what I would have expected to see change in that time since I was in school but I surely would have thought it would be much different.
When I got to college and started my courses related to education we talked about classroom management, how to write a lesson plan, and took our core courses. I did not take one class on how to use technology in the classroom. We did not talk at all about cell phone policies in school or how to help students use their technology. I am hoping that this has changed in the bachelor’s degree programs since I am now seeing more of these courses available as I am completing my master’s and second master’s degree. I am also hoping that since these courses are available educators and administrators will start to spread the word about how important it is that we grow with the technology and not resist it.
The world outside of school has changed since I was in school as well. We are now able to watch endless shows and movies on Netflix. We can post a tweet or post a picture on Instagram and the world knows what we are doing instantly. We can stream any song we want. Today’s world has so much more instant gratification than it used to and I am seeing that within my students. They want to check their text now. They want to get their question answered now. So much is available at the touch of a button and they aren’t used to working for or waiting for what they need or want. It will be interesting to see what this generation is like as they start to filter out into the real world.
The upcoming generations have so much potential due to the technologies that they have available. As adults we need to help them understand all of the resources available and how to use them to do their best and be their best. Students know that Youtube is available and watch endless music videos or cat videos but do they know how to use it to find lessons on the math topic they were stuck on. Students want to use their phones during the school day to text but do they know that they can use it to look up the definition of a word they don’t know in study hall. In our district phones are not allowed out at all during the school day. I have often seen students trying to check their phone during class and completely not listening to their instructor because they are worried about hiding the fact that they want to check their phone.
Why don’t we allow phones out during the day so that students can quickly check their phones in the hall on the way to class and then put it away when they enter the classroom? Why can’t all students be provided a device so that they can carry it with them to use in study halls or at home? Why are students so quick to grab their phone to take a picture of themselves but they won’t use their phone to look up a topic that they are confused with? In the next few years I hope that these are situations that can be addressed in my district. I hope that we can change our policies and guide our students on how to use technology in school and outside of school while providing devices for students other than their phones. The skills to use their resources are ones that will carry over into the real world.
I think that as the younger generations filter into administrative positions in schools we will start to see more change. Maybe it is just my district but there are people in decision making positions that are as old, or older than my parents, and they seem to see more cons than pros to technology and forward movement changes in schools. I often hear older teachers and administrators talk about how they used to have to type reports on a type writer and go to the library to get their information. They say “these kids don’t know how good they have it.” Some of these same people are the ones who don’t use any technology in the classroom or are resisting a change in the cell phone policy. Maybe they are right. Maybe these students don’t know how good they have it. As I’ve gotten older and reflected on my education I know that I sure do know how good I have it. I do appreciate what is available to me and new generations. I sure will not complain about not having a certain luxury when I was younger and then not make use of it now that we do have it.
I am not at all trying to put down the administrators and teachers who do not want change. Change is hard. It requires well thought out procedures and edits to policies. It requires training and sometimes new purchases. All of these things take time and money. Sometimes it seems like the best option to just stick with something that has been working. However, I don’t think running a school now, as it was run 10 years ago is the best practice. Unless we start to see fresh educators and administrators in those positions I am not sure we will see much change in 4 years. However, in 15-20 years I do think our schools and therefore our worlds outside of school will start to look different. It will be a slow change, and all districts will change at a different rate, but the change is inevitable with advances happening as they are.