However; a lot has changed since the 90’s not only in the types of technology available, but also in the demand for 21st century learning classes. Computers are no longer thought of as novelty items or something to be shelved in closets at the teacher’s discretion. They are a necessary skill in which a student’s experiences should mirror what will be expected of them in the real world. In determining which option is best not only in a district, but school by school, educators should be included along with technology department and administrators in deciding what would be best for their student population and site needs. It is the teacher who will be using the device in their classroom and creating lessons and activities that meet the needs of their students. How technology is used in the classroom is as individual as the teacher who uses it. If a teacher is not a stakeholder in the decision, then the responsibility of implementing innovative technology may go unclaimed.
Unfortunately, many districts still hold onto the antiquated belief that the technology department should be the primary decision maker when it comes to purchases and how it it’s allowed to be used in the classroom. Fear of the losing control factors teachers are often denied access to wonderful classroom tools. This is not only near-sighted, but detrimental to the creativity of the innovative teacher’s mind. It is easy to see that decisions about pedagogy and implementation should be left to those who have not only the degree, but classroom experience in the specific age group and content area in which they will be expected to use the technology.
So how do districts accomplish this task? How do you consider each teacher’s needs and not depend solely on committees or small samples to create an effective technology plan? The answer could be as simple as using existing professional learning communities to decide what teachers want to see in their classrooms. Classroom observations and surveys by principals should include how existing technology is used, but also include the teacher’s future vision of what could be possible given the right tools. Examine old habits, ideas such as purchasing the same brand simply because it’s always been that way should be put to the side. Districts are saving hundreds and thousands of dollars by switching to devices such as Chrome books and free software such as Google docs. Only when all stakeholders open communication and are willing to set aside traditional decision-making models will antiquated classrooms become models of learning in the 21st century.