I love computers and technology. My first computer was a Commodore PET. It used a cassette tape player to load programs into RAM. (This was before hard drives were common.)
One of the first things I ever did with that computer, other than play Space Invaders until the keys broke, was to convert one of my hundreds of Star Trek manuals into an electronic book. I learned how to type by typing that book onto the screen and saving it on a cassette a chapter at a time. I was longing for the day I could simply talk to my computer to put my ideas (or in that case someone else’s) into an electronic format. (By the way, that sentence was dictated using Mountain Lion’s built in dictation software.)
For goodness sake, the first word in the title of my blog is “Geek” for a reason.
Computers in the Classroom
I love technology. I love using technology in a classroom. There’s hardly a day that I don’t use the Internet in my classes to incorporate examples to illustrate my teaching points. If you’re a teacher who doesn’t use YouTube to illustrate your ideas, Facebook to facilitate social interaction between your students (for adults anyway), Twitter to encourage shy students to participate and ask questions during lectures (assuming you haven’t “flipped” your classes yet), and Google or the AVL to demonstrate research when questions are raised, frankly, you’re not doing your job.
Technology is a wonderful tool that can assist teachers in increasing classroom participation, addressing a variety of student learning styles, improving peer learning and encouraging intellectual curiosity about topics that might not be the actual topic for the day. Technology can encourage critical thinking.
But like any tool, technology can also interfere in the learning process. Teaching a literature class, where one of the primary goals of the class is to encourage critical thinking and engagement in civil discourse about a reading assignment, in a computer lab is frankly counterproductive. Hiding behind a computer screen allows students to disengage from a discussion. We still, perhaps more today than ever, need to teach students how to look a person in the eye and communicate an idea in a clear, concise way. Technology interferes in that process.
And so I support the idea to put technology in every student’s hands, but the superintendent’s defense of this decision clearly demonstrates that he is not a teacher and has no understanding of the educational process.
Take a look at how he responded to a parent who dared to ask questions about the implementation of the district’s “digital conversion.”
Dr. Wardynski’s responses show that he’s truly feeling empowered to insult parents who question him, now that the board has removed any requirement that he answer questions from parents from his evaluation tool. Furthermore, he makes the claim, “uh, I’m an engineer too.” Here is his application for the superintendent position from last year: Wardynski HCS Superintendent CandidatesRed. Do you see any evidence that he has a background in engineering?
First he dismisses the questions and concerns by claiming that “the FAQs address almost every one of those” questions.
This isn’t true.
The FAQ did not answer the question concerning Facebook and Twitter in the version of the FAQ that I downloaded on August 19th, three days after the superintendent reprimanded this parent for “listening to rumors.” The FAQ has since been updated to include this information (they’re up to revision six). While it’s certainly important for the district to update their FAQs as new frequently asked questions are raised, it would really be nice if we had a superintendent who could manage not to take offense when a parent asks him a question. Wouldn’t it?
He goes on to call that parent’s question about the digital conversion “absurd,” and the parent should simply realize, “this is the way that we’re doing business.”
Yes, there are results. This is not a pilot program. This is the way we’re doing business. The idea that paper is the technology forever is, frankly I’m an engineer too, is absurd. Paper’s run its course, and it ran its course a long time ago.
First, education is not a “business,” but I suspect that’s a battle for another day.
Second, again, it would be nice if the superintendent were confident enough in himself not to have to offer his resume and not to insult the questioner when defending his ideas. I suppose that’s just too much to ask.
Third, the idea of a “paper-less” office has been in circulation since a marketer came up with the idea in the 1960s. In just the last two decades of the 20th century, paper usage doubled. Each office worker in the US produces approximately 130 pounds of paper a year. While paper production had plateaued during the early part of the 21st century, paper document production will stay the same, increase, or significantly increase at 74% of companies.
So much for paper having “run its course.”
If in fifty years even the saintly corporation hasn’t managed to “go paperless,” I wonder how long it will be before Wardynski’s prediction will come true for the schools? I also wonder how many of those CEOs would appreciate being called “absurd” by the superintendent?
Pearson Is AMAZING
Let’s look at what else Dr. Wardynski had to say to one parent who dared to ask a few questions.
I’d invite you to look at the digital curriculum. Uh, Pearson is the largest educational solution provider in the world. They are not a fly-by outfit. Uh, they are providing us the system, the professional development, the back end analytics, the formative assessment, the e-books and all the stuff that goes in it, to the planning devices, the collaboration tools, the ability to build a library around your class from the Khan Academy to all sorts of other things.
You know, I’d love to look at the digital curriculum, but my daughter hasn’t received her netbook yet. And so she hasn’t even seen the digital curriculum yet and it’s the third day of school. The current estimate for when the netbooks will arrive in her classroom (third grade) is sometime next week. My son hasn’t had access to an iPad yet, and even when he does, it won’t come home with him. So how exactly am I supposed to review the curriculum?
The site that the district offers for teachers to review the curriculum is www.HuntsvilleDigital.com. But that site is basically a sales pitch and a place for teachers to sign up for their training sessions that happened last week. Until my daughter has access to a netbook (third graders were not able to pick them up early), I don’t believe that I will be able to review it.
By Pearson’s own admission, this is the largest conversion they’ve ever attempted. The next largest was a single grade in New York City Schools. They may not be a “fly-by outfit,” but the issues we’re facing this week (and last) suggest that even the supposedly “largest educational solution provider” may have issues meeting this demand.
“Ludicrous” Parental Ideas
Dr. Wardynski continues with his insults:
The idea that we are somehow at the forefront is ludicrous as well. Business is at least thirty years ahead of us. Government elsewhere is at least 15 to 20 years ahead of us. Education has not made the transition, frankly in my mind, because budgetary resources allowed it to continue to do business the old way. And there aren’t budgetary resources to do business the old way anymore. We have to provide good compensation for our teachers, or we won’t have good teachers. That means we have to provide resources that allow our teachers to be more effective because we don’t have resources to supplement them in the old ways.
First he calls a parent’s suggestion “ludicrous.” Then he proceeds to suggest that business has gone digital, and thus “paperless” (which isn’t true), and that other government bodies have done it as well.
Again, the use and production of paper has at least doubled in the past 20 years.
He then goes on to imply that education used to have huge, wasteful budgets.
Once again our superintendent is showing his complete lack of knowledge outside of the message that he was trained to repeat from the Broad Foundation.
Please, can anyone show me a time in the last 30 years (to use his number) when education budgets haven’t been tight?
Our superintendent is attempting to force change on our kids on the basis of a total absence of supporting evidence and history.
And he’s using these new budgetary restrictions (for everyone but himself and friends that is) to justify never “supplement[ing] them in the old ways.” You know, like actually allowing teachers to have a raise.
Wardynski Knows Your Kids Better Than You
This man, whose children are grown themselves, then proceeds to tell parents with school aged kids that they just don’t understand the new world their children are growing up in.
Uh, technology is the world in which our kids are natives. We may not be, and it may scare us. Uh, but they’re natives. And the difficulty of change for them is far less than it will be for people my age. Um, they will work in an environment that a lot of kids around our country and our world are already working in.
Yes, sir. We know that our children will adapt to technological changes with greater ease than we will. That has always been the case. But as ethicists have taught us, just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should. Just because our children can adapt, doesn’t mean they should have to.
This is a fine example of a “red-herring” fallacy, in case you were wondering.
Replacing Teachers with Videos
Next the superintendent suggests that replacing actual teachers with video lectures from the Khan Academy will improve student learning.
The Khan Academy is one of the leading resources. Florida’s gone to flex-books. The state, this year, came within a hair’s breath of demanding that we do this. Uh, so we’re probably, in our state, two years ahead of the curve. Uh, we’re certainly leading the way, Cathy says three. We’re certainly leading the way in terms of formative assessment.
If you’re interested, you may read more about the Khan Academy and their connections to Bill Gates and Eli Broad as well. Once again, Khan is a useful tool, but it doesn’t replace a real teacher as Wardynski is attempting to do at the high school level with the use of avatars in place of interaction with living, breathing teachers who are in the same room as the student.
Doing Everything “On The Fly”
Dr. Wardynski goes on to claim that the digital assessment actually began last year with the introduction of the netbooks (that still haven’t been passed down to the third grade). He claims:
The digital initiative did not begin this year, it began last with digital assessment. We do computer adaptive assessment at the district level and in our schools, uh, for formative assessment. That gives us instant feedback. The way that people were comfortable with was to learn about it in July. And I call that an autopsy cause there’s nothing we can do about the student’s learning a year late. Uh, we can now intervene on the fly, uh, this week, we changed the textbooks on the fly.
Has he not learned in his many years the value of a measured, considered response? Again, just because you can do something “on the fly,” doesn’t mean that you should. I don’t know about you, but most of the things that I’ve decided to do “on the fly,” I have found myself regretting shortly thereafter. The piece of coconut cake I just ate, “on the fly,” was certainly ill-considered.
Changing Textbooks Overnight
He goes on to cite a change in textbooks by secondary math teachers the week before school starts as evidence of the amazing power of this digital conversion.
Our, uh, math teachers in secondary took a look at the book they initially adopted, and decided after they got in the curriculum a little deeper, they’d like to switch it. Try that with paper. If you’ve got a million dollars, you can do it. If you don’t, you can’t. Uh, with digital, you can change the textbooks today, tomorrow, the next day, every year, to meet the kids changing needs and our learning the ability to put the curriculum to work.
Does anyone else find it disconcerting that the textbooks for the year are being switched just days before the school year starts? I’m sorry, but when are those teachers going to find time to review and prepare for teaching with the new texts they’ve selected at the last minute? When I change a textbook at the college level, I ideally need at least a semester to plan for how the new textbook is going to impact my pedagogy. If I don’t have that much time to plan, I am not actually prepared when I step into the classroom on the first day.
On the first day of class this year, assuming that they could actually get onto the textbook site at all, our secondary math teachers were likely reviewing the new textbook for the first time.
Personally, I would prefer my teacher to be a bit more prepared than that time frame will allow.
Really, Wardynski KNOWS Your Kids
Wardynski continues to lecture the parent who dared to ask questions:
Uh, we work in a learning environment; our kids are going into a world of exponential change. Um, we’re moving forward. And it is not a pilot, it’s a full force effort that I think any number of districts are going to copy almost immediately. And one which was led, uh, in Virginia by a district that had tremendous success in raising student achievement by making this undertaking. So, it’s not an experiment. Uh, it’s district wide. Uh, we’ve made a commitment to it. The other commitment we would have had to make was to paper. And we’re not going to commit to paper. We’re going to commit to the world our kids live in, which is digital.
Other districts are shifting to digital. Madison City, for example, is planning to do the shift gradually, a class and a grade at a time to make sure that they are prepared for the issues they will face.
Uh, and when you hear rumors, I suggest you go to the FAQ site, check that out. Uh, when we hear questions, such as the ones you bring to us, we’ll add those to the FAQs so other people can benefit from your questions and our answers. Uh, there’s a lot of learning to be done. Uh, if you want to learn more, Project RED was a met analysis of the use of digital learning in classrooms in K-12. Uh, it’s quite a tome, and I’d invite you to explore that as well. Uh, I think those are the key points that really get at the focus of what we’re trying to do. Um, we have to prepare our kids for the future. We’re not gonna get there using methods that essentially, uh, have brought us to where we are today. Um, we’re going to have to use new methods, and these methods aren’t that new.
Despite the superintendent’s confusing statement there at the end, since he spent so much time promoting the findings of Project RED, it would indeed be worth our while to review it. I will be doing so over the next few days. However, one should note that one company that benefits greatly from the findings of Project RED is Pearson. Another company that benefits as well is HP, as you can see from Pearsons’ promotion of the findings on their website.
It’s always wise to be aware and attentive when someone is selling you something. Pearson, HP, and Dr. Wardynski are certainly selling this idea.
At the end of the really long post, I still believe that technology makes for a powerful tool in the hands of a teacher who has been trained to make use of it.
Our teachers have received three days of training. During those three days, they were often struggling to stay online.
I wonder why Dr. Wardynski is in such a hurry to push this digital initiative through without first establishing the proper infrastructure to support it? I wonder why, as James Whitenborg asked and Dr. Wardynski ignored in his nearly seven minute response, the plan has been rushed through this summer?
Typically when someone selling you something is rushing you toward the cashier, they’re truly afraid that you’re going to look at the product being sold and decide that you really could get along better without it.
If technology is the miracle drug to fix what ails us, why is Dr. Wardynski going to such great lengths to insult people who have questions about it?
Thank you Mr. Wittenborg for standing up to ask questions.
I love the quote in this article http://blog.al.com/breaking/2012/08/chapman_students_show_off_wi-f.html#incart_river_default
“”You can play cool games on it,” Cross said. ”
It’s great that kids can now play Angry Birds during their bus rides!
And by the way, if you switch digital textbooks, doesn’t that cost money as well?
Thanks for the great post!
I also found it interesting that the Superintendent pulled a group of 4th graders out of class for a “short ride” in order to “test wifi.”
He’s using our kids for photo-ops.
It is really hard to believe that the HCS is prepared for a total overnight digital conversion when it cannot manage to update its own website or fix links that have been broken for a year.
I’d like to see too the AP scores W says have improved. Not the number of bodies in the classrooms, but the numbers of tests taken, and the number of grades of 4 & 5 received (these are the only grades most colleges accept to allow an AP course to substitute for a required college course).
Does W think that secondary math teachers choose the math books for their courses (“math teachers in secondary took a look at the book they initially adopted”)? This isn’t quite the way it works, is it?
Nope that isn’t how the text book selection process usually works, but honestly there was so many things wrong with what he was saying that I was simply running out of room keeping track of it all.
From what I’ve heard, the percentage of students succeeding in taking the AP test is down. I’ve heard many complaints that many of the students who were taking AP classes were not ready for the “rigor.”
My son hasn’t gotten his computer yet. The computer people are too far behind getting everyone else’s computers connected.
Neither has my daughter. And neither of our younger kids, I’d bet, have seen the iPads yet.
I have been very interested in the AP test results also. Wasn’t the superintendent’s goal just to increase the enrollment in the AP classes? Seems like the scores should be a part of the goal…a certain percentage of the enrollment should attain a score of 4 or 5.
My daughter graduated from a HCS high school in 2010. She took at least 7 AP classes her last two years. That year was an exceptionally talented group and I think exhibits a truth of all things…there are cycles to everything and good years/bad years. Because of her AP credits, she is entering her third year at Auburn with over 90 hours and countless options. Pre Wardinski, pre laptops, old fashioned flesh and blood teachers with a passion for what they did. Every time we travel down to see her receive another award, we see young men and women she graduated with who all share her exceptional work ethic and talent.
And I am a big fan of paper…who hasn’t suffered a total loss of data from a computer crash disaster!?!
i think the biggest and simplest point you make is one that should be taken to heart – the netbooks and ipads and other technological advances in the classroom are mere tools – like a textbook. i think it’s a great idea to replace textbooks when they become outdated. but you need that effective teacher and a receptive student to prove the value of those tools.
just my two cents. 🙂
Our system is infected with the Broad Institute Virus. First and foremost, Russell is obviously doing a tremendous job informing the public what is really going on. But what else should we be doing? Voice our concerns to each BOE by letter? Speak at BOE mtgs. and be publicly eviscerated? I do not want to wait 2 years until my BoE rep is up for re-election. I think the most effective way is to organize parents and other concerned people. Unfortunately I don’t know how to do it.
I’ve got some ideas about this, and I’m going to try and write it up this weekend, but in general, staying in constant touch with your board member and showing up at the meetings are effective. They prefer it when we stay quietly at home.
In addition, become active and vocal at the PTA level. Our PTAs, in general, are going along with these decisions. This provides a ton of cover to the superintendent to do whatever he wishes.
This isn’t going to change over night, unfortunately.
But what else should we be doing?
Occupy your school board. They need to be reminded they work for US, we don’t work for them. The media can’t ignore a massive protest like they can one or two “absurd” parents and bloggers.
I watched that board meeting with interest and saw how condescending Dr. Wardynski was to the parent. I picked up my daughter’s laptop 2 days before the meeting and was able to access Facebook, youtube, and all sorts of inappropriate material in a matter of about 5 minutes. There were absolutely no filters on her computer whatsoever. So I was very surprised when he said that “of course” facebook would not be allowed on school computers. By the next morning, it was blocked. At least they had the sense to go back and check on it. She is still able to access youtube and any other site she chooses to click on – at 10 years old.
My 1st grader told me today that some people in his class have gotten textbooks, but he hasn’t gotten any. This was confirmed by his teacher who told me they didn’t send enough books for the class. There are exactly the same number of children in his class this year as last year, so I’m not sure why they wouldn’t send enough books. His teacher told me not to worry because they weren’t using the books right now anyway. My son says that he spent today playing PopTropica (not an even an educational game) on the computer and then playing a math rocket game on the ipad. It makes me wonder what is going on when they have cut library time to once every other week so that it won’t interfere with classroom instructional time, and yet my son is spending his “instructional time” playing video games.
My 3rd grader did receive her netbook today, and we spent some time looking it over this afternoon. My 8 year old also now has free access to the internet, but she has an extremely hard time finding a page in her online reading book. I’m having trouble understanding how this is going to help her learn, when it takes 10 minutes to find the right page on the computer instead of being able to immediately access it in a textbook.
My 5th grader is in tears because she is supposed to do a geography assignment and she can’t find a map on google with the rivers that she needs. How is this better than her having a geography textbook with the correct information? I am trying to stay positive with the children about all of these changes, but it is difficult when this goes against everything I believe education should be.
My cousin knows her child is irresponsible, and if she wanted him to have a laptop, which he had been begging for, she would have bought him one.
She already knows he is either lose it or break it and she will be held responsible for it.
She said she felt like she was signing her life away when she picked up her son’s laptop that she didn’t want him to have in the first place.
Typo should read-She already knows he is either going to lose it or break it and she will be held responsible for it.
Pearson is a billion dollar company with offices all over the U.S., but during our three day training session at the eleventh hour I found my training to be lacking. The instructors could not answer my questions and often had to leave the room to contact someone in a higher position to attempt to get my questions answered. I was told, “We’re working on that.” They have yet to answer my questions or explain to me why my students can’t access their website at school. Other teachers I have talked to had an EVEN worse experience and came away with almost NOTHING to help them from their training.
HCS laptops: Some of my students still don’t have laptops. Other students have had them for days and no one can get them logged in using the HCS procedures for logging into your computer for the first time. Names are misspelled. Birthdates are wrong. The batteries are drained by the end of the day, and we don’t have extra power cords to help them recharge. All the laptops and bags look the same and mix-ups are now a COMMON problem.
Wi-Fi problems: Yes, you were correct in one of your earlier posts when we couldn’t get proper training, because the Wi-Fi wasn’t working. Now that the Wi-Fi is working at times, my students can’t access Pearson’s website. Use this browser. Don’t use that browser. Then it kicks you over to a browser you aren’t supposed to use.
Facebook and Twitter is blocked. This is true to some degree. It is blocked by the system’s firewall. My Father said it best over ten years ago, “You give me an 8 billion dollar company with computers, software, and websites that can’t be hacked, and I’ll give you an 8 year old who can find a way around their security features in under 8 minutes.” True to form: I found one of my students has already accessed Facebook from an HCS computer while on campus.
Big Brother is watching you: I have been told from a reliable source that THEY are watching to see who is and is not using laptops (from a teacher standpoint). It’s really hard to start teaching the little ones the first few days of school about their laptops and how to access Pearson’s website using the correct browser, when the website doesn’t work, the Wi-Fi doesn’t work at times, and anything and everything that could go wrong… DID! We should be reviewing rules and procedures – not wasting 3 days on a website that doesn’t work.
Some of my colleagues from several different HCS schools are under the impression that at any given moment THEY could walk into our classroom without warning, and if we don’t have those laptops up and running we will be written up or punished. Well, I can’t do my job if the Internet is down, the Wi-Fi is down, or Pearson’s website isn’t working. Frankly, they are scared of being written up or fired. Maybe it’s hysteria. Maybe they’re right. I pray to God they are wrong.
He is my BOSS, and if that is his agenda – then so be it. That being said, he is a boss and not a leader and I don’t feel that violates any libel or slander laws. At the very least, I still have the freedom of speech. If he was a leader, he would empower the teachers. He would not refer to us as feed stock and send condescending memos via his staff with an attempt to beat us down with scare tactics.
Again, thanks for all you do Russ. You are a saint.
Thank you AngryAnn for speaking out. You and all our other teachers who are being beaten down by this man are the real saints.
Our kids would be lost without you.
Angry Ann, I can’t imagine the stress you are under. Can you just log the kids in and teach in your normal way? Have they distributed the real textbooks to you?
There are real Pearson textbooks to use. At HHS they are sitting in hundreds of boxes on the 1st floor—UNOPENED—I saw them last night. Also it is questionable if Pearson can supply text for AP classes! OMG!
This is a joke. My senior could not log on to the 3 different Pearson web sites that hold his on-line text to do his home work until after 10 pm. And we never found the new HHS web site to download class syllabus.
My middle school child could not access his Edmodo site to get his assignment (I told him WRITE IT ON PAPER!) and could not access his Pearson site until after 8 p.m. When he finally accessed his Science text his father and I had to help him with science homework. The text was so hard to understand. My son is a bright kid and his father and I share a B.S. B.A. and a MBA between us!
To Livid Laura,
Yes, there are REAL Pearson textbooks for most subjects that should accompany the website, and you’re right. They are sitting in boxes underneath stairwells, in maintenance closets, and even in the halls. We were told not to open them, because…SOMEONE has to come and open them. First, I was told a Pearson representative had to do it. Then, I was told we had to wait for SOMEONE to bar code them. I wonder if it’s BookTracks from last year? It was a good idea that went horribly wrong. They slapped a paper bar code on a 10 year old textbook and covered it with tape. Do I even need to finish this thought? The students just peeled them off the books in some cases.
Do I have a teacher’s manual, yet? No.
Could I use last years’ textbooks to teach from until we get this mess straightened out? No, they’re locked up in a book closet somewhere and they are scheduled to be picked up soon by SOMEONE.
Also, one of the I.T. people on my campus told me that part of the problem was Pearson is in the middle of updating some of their websites. If this information is correct, what kind of company tries to update their website at the start of the school year for their biggest contract to date? I was also informed that this I.T. person did not work for HCS or Pearson. He was hired by an outside company. I wonder if he reports to Lean Frog?
“HCS is currently working on a new website that will launch in August. During this time, some of our current links may not work. We ask for your patience as our staff is working to provide you with a new and improved website.”
Never mind. I see what kind of companies update websites at the beginning of the school year. It’s an epidemic.
We’ve been in tears here as well. My 7th grader is beyond stressed that she can’t log into the sites she needs to for HW assignments. WAAAY to stressful first week of school. My 5th grade son’s teacher sent an actual PAPER spelling packet home! So thankful for that!
According to the Aurora Public Schools website:
“Wardynski holds a doctorate in policy analysis from the Rand Pardee Graduate School with an analytic focus on public sector economics, a Master’s Degree in public policy from Harvard University with a concentration in finance and a bachelor’s degree from West Point with a concentration in Latin American Studies. He is currently a Broad Academy Fellow.”
So how is he an engineer?
Excellent question. I suppose Dr. Wardynski “has become all things to all people.” 🙂
What would be the opposite of a sanitation engineer?
Jim Wittenborg is one of the finest men I have ever met. I had the pleasure of teaching one of his children a few years back. He, nor any parent, deserves to be treated like this. It’s astounding the board members didn’t cushion those remarks by the supt. I think parents are finally feeling the frustration and this is where the grassroots effort will have to form. One person at a time cannot take this man on.
As Angry Ann pointed out, it has been a nightmare in the classroom. Teachers have been working until 6 or 7 at night trying to fix problems because all of the tech staff were cut.
The e-text won’t even load into the iPads for K-2 because it requires adobe flash player. So, the kids will have to use textbooks after all.
Trying to take baseline assessments this week was laughable. The Pearson program won’t even open and we resorted to our desktop computers to finally get the task done.
The only word I keep coming up with is “reckless”. A project of this magnitude should be phased in over the course of years. As Jim pointed out- there is no ” do over” for this year in our kids’ lives. So sad…
Thank you, Anonymous, for your service to our community and for speaking out. (Thank you also for the correct spelling of Mr. Wittenborg’s name.)
No one bothered to check that the etext required Adobe Flash.
Except it isn’t.
It’s going to be a really long year.
Don’t forget to add informercial actor…check out the Knology channel and watch the Supe make a proscuitto omelette.
It took an entire class period and five, yes 5 Pearson representatives in my classroom to log on 25 students onto their textbooks. They were already enrolled in the class – I had done that earlier. I probably would have gotten the students logged in faster if the Pearson reps hadn’t barged into my classroom and had been able to get the attention of my entire class at once. As it was there were too many distractions with all those people in my room. I also had 5 students who hadn’t gotten their laptops yet, and they were being called to the library to get their computers during the process. More distractions.
I am lucky in that I am “computer savvy” and have no trouble figuring out computer programs and websites on my own with little training. Because I got little training over three days from Pearson thanks to technical problems. One of the training sessions for one of my textbooks involved being given a handout and being told to figure it out at home on my own time. That is no exaggeration. Thursday when I asked the Pearson reps where to find the access codes to log the students on to that textbook they had no idea where to find them. Another traveling teacher found some at a different school and brought them to me.
Many high school students are also confused because there are four different platforms for the textbooks, depending on which book a class uses: SuccessNet, SuccessNetPlus, Mastering/MyLab, and CourseSmart. Also, the students also are using Edmodo and Moodle, and are unsure which website to go to when. The students have different user names and passwords for each of these websites, adding to the confusion. I’ve already had students unable to log in because they forgot their password, and the websites don’t give teachers access to passwords, only usernames. By the end of the day the poor kids are telling me that they don’t want to use computers any more and are ready to go back to textbooks.
So, as a result of this technology “improving” our teaching, I am four days behind where I usually am in my lessons this time of year. I can imagine it getting worse as we have more problems with the WiFi and computers. Yes, it is going to be a long year.
I forgot to add that the classroom sets of books still aren’t in the classrooms, but reportedly are somewhere in the building, and the same with the teacher editions. So the only way teachers can see their books for planning is online (slow and tedious) and kids without computers have to share computers with others to see books. Also slow and tedious when everyone is on the WiFi at the same time.
I want to thank you so much for all you do. I was an Huntsville City School teacher last year. I am not naming the school but it was on the North Side of town and we made AYP. I was not given a renewal and found out Teach for America had entered the school. I did many things for the school while I was there and did things for many of the kids that needed help. When asked while I was released I was given no reason (which they can do), but I was also told well maybe you should include more technology in your classroom. I used the active board everyday and used the netbooks in class at least for 5 weeks out of the school year. I was asked to see my evaluations done by the Dr. W’s committee I was informed they did not know who had it. Luckily I got a job very quickly after I left in May and went to HCS central office and pulled my teaching certification from there. I just find it odd and amazing that HCS has turned this way. I feel for the parents of any HCS student because they are being set up for failure under this administration. The major problem with many of the schools in HCS is there is no stability and now Dr. W has totally wrecked everything. I have spoken with former coworkers of mine and they said that 2 of the teach for America teachers are ready to walk out the door.
What are the real reasons behind HCS posting of administrative technology jobs now…. one week after school has begun(Director of Educational Technology and Information Technology Manager)? Whatever happened to planning ahead?
The Technology Director they hired one week before school started quit after reconsidering the offer over a weekend. http://blog.al.com/breaking/2012/08/finley_has_change_of_heart_sta.html
and while planning for all this wonderful technology, they somehow forgot to make sure they had enough bandwith for all these students to logon simultaneously. their internet service and servers are not powerful enough to do what they need to do, even if they did have all the laptops and ipads handed out…which they dont. i know teachers that sepnt hours just trying to get all their students logged in, then kept having to refresh the pages just to get it to work.
It was great to see in the newspaper that W was bragging about implementing a 3 year technological change over a period of 3 months. That is the equivalent of building a home in 3 months, that should have taken 3 years to build. The citizens of Huntsville are much too intelligent to allow changes like this to our once excellent education system. If it should take 3 years to install an all digital curriculum, then it should be done over a 3 year period. It is also absurd that 22,000 computers were issued, while many schools have no technology teacher to assist the students or teachers.
I have been wondering, what percentage of students have been issued computers and how close are we to being 1:1? And what about the bandwidth issues, how many schools have the bandwidth necessary for supporting the 1:1 computer initiative? What is the schedule for raising the bandwidth to the level necessary for supporting the 1:1 computer initiative?
Dr Wardynski is a numbers guy, what are the numbers?
NYT article about Silicon Valley executives sending their kids to Waldorf and other schools with NO – none, zero – computers.
I worry about the connection between hand and brain being ignored. I can’t stress how important it is for brain development, especially in (but not limited to) young children.
And why buy laptops only made in China?
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