If you have been following the District's so-called "budget presentations," you may have caught the technology budget presentation. But is the District really following the advice of the consultant that it so proudly displayed at that presentation. If you listen to the students, you may wonder if your $6,000,000.00 per year investment is really preparing them for the global economy, or is it simply impressing those who will simply never get it. In the words of one student, "the results of its implementation suggest this [latter] conclusion."
At the Lower Merion School District's November 13, 2006 Technology Budget Presentation, a video clip of Alan November, a futures "expert" who the administration seems to revere, made an excellent point of differentiating between "teaching technology skills" and preparing our students to learn to think in ways that utilize technology. After all, as Mr. November pointed out, there is no way that our teachers can teach our children to use existing technology; they already know it better than the teachers and can pick it up faster having grown up with technology all around them. So, rather then force-feed existing technology, we need to take on the more difficult task of teaching them to exploit technology.
But which road has the district taken, information critical thinking or high-tech toys? Are we teaching our students a "global work ethic," as Mr. November encourages, or are we blindly following Microsoft's marketing genius? By forcing the use of certain technology, we may be spending lots of money in ways that impress rather than inspire. And in doing so, we may be taking something away from our children. To learn what the children think, we turned directly to the Lower Merion High School students. To see one way that our funds are being spend in the name of education, read Eboards - A Choice, Not an Obligation in student newspaper, The Merionite click here. Interestingly, at the Technology Budget Presentation, many Board members raved about the eboards because they "informed parents of homework assignments!" Does this board really see this as a way to increase student learning? I suspect that, used correctly, eboards can enhance learning. But, it's ashame that our school board didn't choose to highlight such examples. Instead, they focused on their own fascination with the technology in a way that takes responsibility and, thus, learning opportunity away from our children. You have to ask yourself if this school board gets it.
But, its mandate of high-tech toys goes beyond eboards. Two interesting articles, also by the students, highlight the administrations fascination with glitz over implementation problems that, by some accounts, take away needed information from the students. To read Video Announcement: Absent and Erroneous in The Merionite click here, and to read Faculty and students react to video announcements in The Merionite click here. The expenditure of our technology budget should be thought out and implemented in a way that demonstrates fiscal prudence and technological competence. If the administration can't get it right, the students certainly won't be inspired to excel.