Thursday, December 20, 2007

out of the box and into our hearts

The accompanying picture was taken with one of our new XO laptops, an amazing little device that's really going to change the world. We ordered two in order to experiment with the new technology and see exactly how the mesh network would function. It doesn't have the range I was looking for (I'm overly optimistic about things like that) but it's a pretty fully-featured machine that is definitely for kids or those who don't mind hunting and pecking at a petite keyboard. More to come!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Sherpas Help Teachers

An article from the Christian Science Monitor points out the rewards that teens and teachers in rural Maine get when giving (and getting) tech assistance. I liked the multimedia feature that accompanied the article. But one thing nags at me-- they talk about how relieved the teachers are to get tech help and how the students benefit from sharing their knowledge, but I sincerely hope that this program isn't replacing adequate professional development and training that teachers need to effectively implement technology in the classroom.

When I think back to my high school days in the mid 1990s, the district was bragging about having a computer in every room (for the teacher's use, of course). But who were the ones actually using it? In many cases, students. There were several teachers who didn't know how to do something as fundamental as retrieving files... I vividly recall demonstrating how to save a file to one teacher, who was just baffled by the whole process. I guess we were sherpas, too, in our own way. (Ah, the heady days of Windows 95, so radically different from 3.1!)

I guess I hoped that in 10 years, things would have changed fundamentally in the edtech world. Am I being pessimistic? Should I look at these new tech sherpas as an advancement, the next iteration of the teen tech support desk? Or should I be more skeptical of these glossy stories about how "cutting edge" teens seem to perennially be beside us older folks? (and holy cow, am I older folks now?!?)