Laptop with Webcam

What Tech in Schools _Really_ Looks Like

“The future is here,” William Gibson once quipped. “It’s just not evenly distributed.” Gibson, the sci-fi writer who coined the term “cyberspace” back in 1982, could easily have been describing the state of technology in today’s K–12 classrooms. Sure, there are lots of stories about schools adopting the very latest digital devices, such as Maine’s Auburn School District giving iPads to each of its more than 250 kindergarteners or Burlington High, outside of Boston, ditching traditional textbooks and equipping every kid with the Apple tablets. But stories like these don’t represent what’s happening in most of our nation’s schools. In fact, the distribution of technology in our classrooms remains radically uneven. It differs by school and grade level. It differs by region. It differs in the make, model, and operating system of various computers. It differs in usage.
The latest official statistics on the availability of technology in public schools come from a 2008 study by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the federal agency that’s responsible for collecting and analyzing education-related data. Looking back at the last four years of technology innovation, much has changed, including the revolutionary release of the very first iPhone in July 2008 and the iPad less than two years later. Even so, some of NCES’s numbers, though dated, seem quite positive: 100 percent of public schools had one or more instructional computers hooked up to the Internet, and 58 percent had carts with laptops.
Although these statistics make it sound as though computers were ubiquitous in schools half a decade ago, scratching the surface reveals a less positive picture. In 2008, the ratio of students to Internet-connected computers was three-to-one. Eighty-five percent of those machines were more than a year old, and less than 40 percent of schools reported wireless network access for the whole building. Since then, it’s easy to imagine that things have vastly improved—with better computers, better computer-to-student ratios, and better Internet access. And in some cases, that’s true.
Full Text: What Tech in Schools Really Looks Like — The Digital Shift.

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