The Golden Age of School Technology
I was finishing a project with a client this month, and the principal joined the meeting. The project added a next-generation wireless network to his school to support a 1:1 Chromebook rollout. He had just completed the first day of formative testing for the school year. The principal had calculated the amount of instructional time that testing in classrooms would save his students. He was excited to declare that the wireless network and 1:1 program would save 24 days of uninterrupted instruction during the school year!
After about two decades of fits and starts in the field of school technology, I believe that we are entering what will be the golden age of school technology. Through the combination of funding sources, and through the maturing of the technology, we now have access to affordable computing for all students.
School districts are in various stages of realizing the promise of 1:1 computing, but most are on the road to this end. Some are building infrastructure, some are performing pilots with classes or grade levels, while others are into a full implementation and are evaluating the results. 1:1 technology in schools at this point seems a question not of “if” but “when.”
I think that 1:1 technology is also the tipping point, because I have lived through the same transition in another field. I started my career as a building architect, and later became the Director of Technology at one of the architectural firms I worked for. At the start, we had a Computer-Aided Design (CAD) bullpen, with computers checked out in shifts for young architects (if that sound like a computer lab, you are getting the picture). It was not until every architect had a computer at the desk that computerization could start to make real gains.
Although we are entering this “golden age of school technology,” we still have a way to go before it is as useful as it can be. In my architectural experience, it took about a dozen years after 1:1 and another couple of generations of software to start really utilizing the power of computing. In education, we have more work to do with software to enhance the learning experience. And, of course, there is the area of changing instructional practice… but more about that later.
For now, let’s celebrate that we are entering a new era in school technology. Let’s keep doing what we can to help our districts move into meaningful 1:1 computing.
After serving two school districts as CIO and technology director, Craig Williams has joined Client First Consulting Group, where he is Director of Infrastructure Consulting Services. He helps school districts with IT master planning, infrastructure design and CIO assistance.