3 Questions Parents should ask schools on Tech in the classroom

technology in the classroom
A boy writes with an electronic marker in a technology integrated classroom. Photo Credit: blogspot

Every year parents look for their best options in education for their children, and every year schools discuss their best options to attract more students. Enrollment has become the name of the battle among private schools in Barranquilla. With the apparent influence of other models of education, technology has become one of the most attractive strategies for getting the attention of both parents and students.

Private schools now promote their facilities and programs with pride because they include technology implementation in their services, and of course, kids love technology. Although there are schools in Barranquilla that have successfully integrated technology, there are also schools that just buy it without making any positive impact on the students’ learning, and parents should know how to tell one from the other.

Let’s define what “technology integration” actually means. A school has successfully integrated technology when it provides the students with access to a variety of tools and teaches them how to make a responsible decision about which is better to solve a problem. You can have a projector and a laptop with internet access in the classroom, but that doesn’t mean that integration is occurring. Unless the teachers are considering technology during the creation of their lesson plans and administrators have clear procedures in place surrounding it’s use, a school has not integrated its technology and the students will not benefit from its existence. In summary, it is not about the box; it is about the tools inside and whether kids use them correctly.

Private schools in Barranquilla know that technology is an ongoing challenge, and they should be cautious on how they present their use of technology to parents. They can purchase software and technical support for students and teachers, but that doesn’t mean that they are implementing it. In some cases, the lack of adequate information, resources, and experts make technology integration a lie, and the danger of it is that parents believe that their kids are receiving the education that prepares them for the XXI Century. So if you are the kind of parent who is looking for a program that integrates technology in the learning of your kids, I suggest you to ask these three questions to help you recognize which school is using technology appropriately and which is not.

Where is the technology?

Even when schools are making efforts on buying computers, laptops, tablets, and internet connection, they need to guarantee access to all of the community. All students should use tech to enrich their learning experiences on a regular basis for different subjects, not just some of them and just to practice English grammar.

What are the school’s Internet use policies?

Just as you would want to research a school’s facilities to ensure they are top notch, you should also take the time to ask questions about technology. If you are the kind of parent who worries when and how your kids have access to the web, then it is necessary to know how the school handles it. Similarly, what would the school administrators do if a student bullied another through social media, or used a cell phone to cheat during an exam? How about if a student has inadvertently damaged another students equipment – as in the case of an iPad; what is the school’s procedure for this sort of situation. Ask if there are documents that contain clear policies and rules. A school that has properly integrated technology will have them at hand.

What are they doing with the technology?

Technology should be leveraged to offer students alternative ways to learn and develop their thinking skills. It has been shown that students and teachers tend to be more motivated when technology is integrated into their daily routines. Schools which have properly integrated technology will have a curriculum enriched by it, and will be able to demonstrate how it is used in each of the learning subjects. Find out if they have a learning platform or educational subscriptions to help the students practice and inform yourself about technology expectations in use for communication, homework, and research.

There is no doubt that private schools in the city are working hard on their technology programs right now, and the enthusiasm for it will bring many attractive initiatives as well, but real success depends on the planning and proper implementation of technology, not in the acquisition of software and devices. Let’s not forget that the real goal of education is student achievement. Kids love technology, and we need to help them use it for the right purpose.