Technology Is Rarely Perfect
When you think about it, there are imperfections in most things, and when you’re talking technology, those imperfections are magnified. Rarely does anything with more than one part, or that does more than one thing, or that relies on numerous and varied external thingamajigs work perfectly every time. Now, if we extrapolate that to the amount of technology purchased by schools and school districts, there is no possible way everything works, everything can be controlled, and everything can be foreseen. No technology guru on the planet has a crystal ball with enough bandwidth to do that—and certainly there is no way school district personnel can be expected to see the future.
A few negative technology stories have gotten some wide-ranging coverage. In most cases, and unfortunately, positive stories with more substance seldom get the coverage negative stories do. Sometimes the outrageous gets the attention, and minor problems can get blown completely out of proportion. The result can sometimes be knee-jerk reactions. We need to read and view objectively. Here’s what we do know: tablet glass can break, shorts in wiring can occur, quality control isn’t perfect, and security is always a concern. Those and more are inevitable, and seem to make headlines when school districts spend a lot of money, and things go wrong.
It is unfortunate when school technology programs don’t work according to the plans, get unbelievably cruel publicity, and are scared to move forward. We know, going into any technology program, that there are things we can control, and there are things we can’t control. Just look back at your own personal technology purchases. Did they all work up to your expectations—perfectly?
The best education technology integrators can do is to make the best choices with the best data available at the time. If the choice, let’s say is a tablet device, Android or iPad—or even a Chromebook or laptop—knowing that the system is safe and secure, it has the best protection surrounding the chassis, as well as safeguards for its screen, and has the right apps, software and education content, that’s a great start. Now, what happens afterwards can’t all be controlled. Bad wiring, a few devices that don’t work properly, or screens cracked from drops by little hands are inevitable. That’s not news; rather it’s something for a good tech-support partnership to handle.
Now, the real news should be about what educators are doing with the technology. And if the chosen technology is not being used, the stories should be about the professional development necessary to get to that point. If students and teachers are using purchased technology infrequently, or not at all, and without educationally sound purpose or results, that’s a problem, and one with a definite solution.