Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Education is the great equalizer and a cornerstone of our democracy. This promise is threatened in schools where the only students who have consistent access to 21st century technologies are those whose parents are able to buy them.
If we do not improve the learning environment at Walla Walla High School by developing infrastructure sufficient to support technology, many students in our community will slip further and further behind.
We have all seen the power digital technologies hold over teenagers. Many are plugged in, flooded with more information and images than they are able to process or understand. These handheld technologies are not going away and complaining about “kids today” will not help.
Educators need the resources to harness the power of these digital technologies and incorporate information and digital literacy into the curriculum. We cannot do this with our current infrastructure.
Today at Wa-Hi, at best, students are taught how to thoughtfully utilize technology one or two hours a day in a computer class.
Many then spend six to eight more hours outside of school on their smart phones, tablets or laptops. But how are they using these handheld technologies? Based on many class discussions with students, I fear they are reading Facebook posts as fact and Wikipedia articles as authoritative.
At worst, many students have no access to technology at all outside of school because they don’t own any. These students lag behind their digital savvy peers, not because they are lacking intelligence or desire, but simply because they don’t have a computer at home.
There is a solution to this. English, science, social studies, math and health teachers can teach students that digital technologies are powerful tools for learning and working. For example, in my ninth-grade English class, I could add lessons on how to evaluate Internet sites to my unit on author’s purpose.
However, if I want to teach that lesson with any hands-on practice, I need to hope the school’s one computer lab is available or that there is room for my whole class in the library.
The proposed bond for remodeling Wa-Hi includes the infrastructure that will allow each student to learn using laptops or tablets in all classrooms. All students will have multiple chances each day to use digital technologies.
Please join me in voting “yes” for Wa-Hi. All students in our community deserve an equal chance at success.