From Chalkboards to Smartboards


CC image by geralt via Pixabay


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?


CC image by geralt via Pixabay


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?


4 thoughts on “From Chalkboards to Smartboards

  1. Your point about libraries becoming obsolete really struck a chord with me. I sit in our school library as I read your post and the thought of all of this being gone makes me incredibly sad. Although I love technology, and often let it take over my life a bit, I couldn’t imagine not having books and wonderful library to house them. But maybe that’s just because we can’t yet comprehend what a “next generation library” would consist of? Could it possibly be better? Interesting post!

  2. ‘When schools adopt a new technology, it is understood that within a year or two that technology will be obsolete.’ I hear you on this one. At my school we also have a full first generation iPad cart that sits there collecting dust. 2 years ago we received a technology grant which allowed for 3 NEW classroom sets of iPads to be purchased. Again, they are already outdated and used for simple google searches and ‘time fillers’. Just as Postman said, technology evolves quickly and we have no choice but to adapt with it.
    Great post–looking forward to reading more!

  3. I too thought sad about the disappearance of libraries, just like Erin. I think it has to do with my past memories, when I would sit in the public libraries on weekends to read a variety of books. I love those memories; but, they are in the past, and we can’t live in the past. I wonder what new libraries will look like, and how I can adapt and change to meet my needs, my students, and my future children’s needs within them. Thanks for the great post!

  4. I have to comment on your flipped classroom question. I have run a flipped classroom before and I don’t think that technology/videos will replace us in the classroom. I think that our roles will change over time. I think we will become facilitators more than teachers who pass information on to our students. The way we teach has changed over the past few decades in switching from very passive learners to encouraging learners to question and seek answers. I think technology allows us to encourage our students to explore and find answers that maybe we wouldn’t be able to answer in class. It will be interesting to see where the road leads that’s for sure!

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