In the September/October 2007 issue of Principal magazine, authors Richard P. Lipka and Thomas M. Brinthaupt argue in their Speaking Out article that schools should think twice before implementing laptops—or other technology—in the classroom. The authors describe the downside of introducing technology into schools, such as hidden costs, operational malfunctions, and managing students' differing technological knowledge.

What problems has your school faced in integrating computers and other emerging technology in classrooms? Do they do more harm than good to the school in the long run?

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re: Computers in the Classroom

I really enjoyed this article. I am a technology coordinator for our K-12 school as well as the Elementary Administrator.

Although the article is certainly written in an "overstated" manner, there are a lot of truths to their comments.

If a school only looks at the cost for the actual "hardware", then they have more than likely set themselves up for failure.

Tech support is key. I am not talking about the tech support you call for on the phone. The number of professional staff needed to support a school district's technology is very often under estimated. The Minot Public Schools is an excellent example of how to do technology right.

Another key is staff ONGOING training. Too often the latest gadget is purchases without thought or care to whether or not a teacher wanted it or has any idea how to implement it into the curriculum.

Technology should only be one of many tools for delivering curriculum.

re: Computers in the Classroom

I feel there are many positives to implemeting computers in the classroom, but of course there are some negatives. When I was in high school, my biggest problem with using computers is that teachers were inadaquate to use it in their lessons. Instead of reinforcing what we were learning, it was taking away from what we were to learn. It was though they were doing the "computer thing" just to do and feel good about teaching with a variety of methods. It is of course also hard to keep students focused and on task. It is nearly impossible to keep everyone off the internet checking their email or playing games instead of doing what they should. And then there are technological issues every now and then. Say you have a whole lesson planned and you get your class to the computer lab and the system is down. What a pain and waste of time! Although these things do not always happen and are probable fixable, they are problems I have encountered when using technology in education. I do feel the pros do outway the cons though and implementing computers and technology into the everyday classroom is worth while and beneficial.

re: Computers in the Classroom

I also agree that there are many positives to implementing more computers into the classrom. However, there are also a few negatives that need to be addressed prior to implementation. One such factor is the staff training, and maintaining of staff training. Too often are teachers given new products or new systems, and after one session are expected to be experts. Also, a variety of programs should be purchased by the district as well to increase student achievement and to differentiate instruction. Districts are trying to incorporate more technology into their schools, but I must agree with the Speaking Out article, that at times, once a district gets in gear and persues new software, the software is already outdated. I would like to see elementary schools incorporate more technology into their curriculum. I do believe that education is moving in the right direction by providing students with more technology access than there was in the past, especially with the usage of Smart Boards, blogs, and GPS systems.

re: Computers in the Classroom

I am a big fan of technology either in the classroom or in my livingroom. The world is changing whether we are ready for it or not and technology plays a big part in it. With the new use of Smartboards and mobile laptops students can have information at thier fingertips in a matter of seconds. As a former elementary teacher, often times discussions would arise where students were left with questions. With the use of a Smartboard it was wonderful doing a quick Google search on the topic we were discussing. Bringing life into the classroom in the form of multimedia is something some students will never have the oppotunity to experience.

Obviously with every positive comes a negative. Technology is expensive and those costs limit schools in what they can provide. What is worse is the initial cost is not always the final bill that needs to be paid. Upgrades and troubleshooting can be very expensive. In the longrun I believe it is necessary and vital for the increasing achievement levels we are expecting in our students. Without the use of technology we are just limiting their potential.