I recently changed roles at work. For 4 years, I was the Principal of a high performing, technology rich elementary school of almost 700 students. We had high test scores, relatively affluent families, and -through tenacious fundraising- were able to put technology into the hands of our teachers and students. We mounted projectors and SMART boards, purchased tablets and computers, and subscribed to online databases for video and interactive books. As the Principal of my school, I had a laser focus on raising funds so that I could enact our shared vision for teaching and learning.
I am currently in a new role, serving as the Director of Instructional Technology in the same school district. We are in the process of articulating our vision- as a district- for what technology should look like in teaching and learning. As I visit campuses, talk to teachers, and witness classroom instruction, I am confronted with a moral dilemma.
I had formerly been an ardent supporter of the local fundraising efforts. Namely, I believed that if our community could fund technology, why wouldn’t we? Why shouldn’t we? So, when I start suggesting that school technology should not be the work of parent fundraising, it’s something to note.
Like I said above, we are currently working to form a vision for technology across our 11 school districts. One of the difficulties in creating a singular vision for a school district is the disparity in access and experience among our school sites. Creating a consistent vision of technology is difficult when we have some students who routinely use technology, and others that have monthly experiences. And, don’t get me started on the differences between teacher technology skills. When schools from the same system have disparate amounts of technology and disparate levels of teacher tech skills, a problem will arise.
It’s fairly evident that a technology gap exists. Does allowing schools to purchase technologies on their own perpetuate this gap? How can a school district offer a consistent experience across all school sites?
I am not really sure where I stand on this anymore. I obviously used to lean toward the side of “let my school buy what it wants and what it can.” Now, I lean toward the idea of finding a way to make technology purchasing moire equitable. I know that this district ran into some very murky and controversial waters, and I certainly don’t seek to create a divide or “petulance.”
So, in the end, I am not sure what “fair,” “equitable,” and “equal” mean these days.