I was the manager of Logos Bookstore in Calgary, Canada for more than 30 years, and during the last 15 years we primarily served the education community. That experience allowed me to witness sweeping changes in technology, and the way it is being applied in the classroom.
As parents and board members became more familiar with the technology and its potential, demands for schools to embrace these innovations become more vocal. There were books and public speakers who celebrated the potential for making classroom management more efficient and cost-effective. There seemed to be a perception that change and technology were inherently good for the advancement of education.
Technologies change on a frighteningly regular basis. So how do you as an administrator keep up with them, and where do you go to fund those changes?
We began to see some of the funding for personnel, literacy and the fine arts funneled instead into funding required by and for technology. At the same time, financing for teacher training and support was cut, which meant that the teachers didn't know how to use the technology that was being brought into the classroom.
Rather than increasing the quality of education for low-income students, the proliferation of technology only seems to exacerbate their disadvantages in comparison to students who are better off economically. Differences in funding meant that schools in lower-income areas had fewer resources even as technology required increasingly more money. In addition, low-income students did not have the same familiarity with computers and other technology that higher-income students seemed to have. Low-income students were also much less likely to have access to technology outside of the classroom, effectively putting their learning at a disadvantage.
I am deeply interested in seeing how the integration of technology has been playing out on an international scale, and I am also eager to learn about places where technology has been used successfully, particularly in terms of increasing opportunities for low-income students.
There must be a middle ground that pairs new technologies with historically proven methods of teaching and nurturing young minds. Systems that do so should be celebrated and copied, both locally and internationally.
David Maxwell was a contributor to the Kickstarter campaign that made Worldcrunch Impact possible. As the guest editor for the Education Innovation series, we asked for his observations after decades working with educators about how technology has changed the distribution of resources in schools.
Maxwell was born and raised in Nigeria. He is motivated to get up in the morning by spirituality, education, reading and writing, Doctor Who, pop-up books, world events and lasting friendships. He is currently enjoying living in Croatia and working as a freelancer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.