When I was in Grade 5 or 6, my elementary school got a “computer lab”. It was full of Mac or IBM computers that had, to my knowledge, one game installed on it. It was some chemistry game where we would mix chemicals to see chemical reactions. Back then, it was pretty amazing technology however I’m not sure I learned much from the game as I still wouldn’t trust myself around chemicals in a lab.
Today, educational technology is difficult to define. When schools adopt a new technology, it is understood that within a year or two that technology will be obsolete. For example, my school has a cart full of first generation iPads that are pretty much useless because they don’t have a camera or microphone on them. Sure, the students use them to play iPad app games that are educational, but students are constantly looking to be more creative in their learning and teaching. And those obsolete iPads aren’t meeting their educational technological needs.
This summer, I reconfigured my library to create an open space so I could hang green drapes to create a green screen backdrop for students who are creating videos. It required a lot of weeding of books to create this space. So here we have this dilemma: are books no longer as important to learning as technology? My students don’t often find themselves in the library just to take out some books – it’s often a quiet place to create their videos for class, or use apps like EduCreations to explain a math concept. Amy Singh could likely attest to the fact that certain areas of our non-fiction libraries rarely get used because the information is more current and relevant online. With ebook applications such as Overdrive, EPIC and Raz-Kids, why we do we continue killing forests to make hand-held books?
Neil Postman describes how human creativity ultimately changes the world. He references how the printing press annulled oral traditions or how computers have eroded social livelihood. Technology goes beyond just computers. Schools are constantly “technifying” their classrooms to make sure that we meet our students “educational” needs. So by adding Smartboards, FM sound stations, video/audio capable iPads and all sorts of new “creations”, what is the take? Will libraries become obsolete as books are now being read to us online? With flipped classrooms is our job security in question? In twenty years what will our classrooms look like? Will we even have classrooms? Is educational technology then end of the traditional educational system as we know it?