Technology Overload: How makerspaces and libraries can save classrooms from pervasive tech run amok
It’s 2016, smart phones and tablets are insinuating themselves into every facet of life, kids are absentmindedly falling off cliffs while trying to catch invisible Pokemon, and dumping new technology willy-nilly into classrooms still seems to be a favorite activity of administrators and school boards. Teachers don’t have the background, training, or oversight of the technology that they’re expected to use, and nobody’s listening to them.
As of 2012, the US ranked 35th out of 64 countries in math and 27th in science (PISA). More recent tests show only minor improvement in rankings. With exciting buzz words like “STEM” and “Disruptive” being used to market everything from smart whiteboards to individualized student lessons in educational apps, EdTech is a booming business that exploded 1600% from $500 million in 2011 to a whopping $8.38 billion in 2012.
Teachers tell me they have students who don’t know how to use a computer. There are teachers who receive little to no training in technology central to their designated curriculum. And there are educators who wish to set aside the computers and search engines and actually engage with their students, cerebrally, unaided and uncluttered by EdTech prosthetics. What a pipe dream!
Makerspaces and modern libraries can offer a pressure relief valve for tech-weary teachers, eager students, and confused parents. But we’ll need teachers, students, parents, and all the rest of you tech-savvy geeks out there to help start the ball rolling and show how much schools, makerspaces, and modern libraries have to gain from each other!
TEACHERS: I’d love to hear your perspective on tech in the classroom. What do you love? What do you hate? What can we do to get more teachers/profs to join us at SeaGL and other similar conferences?
Robinson Tryon, The LOT Network, Inc.
Robinson has over a decade of experience in Free/Open Source Software (FOSS) development, organization, and outreach, with an emphasis on Serious Games in medicine, security, and higher education.
He’s served as Senior QA Engineer for The Document Foundation, the German non-profit behind LibreOffice & Document Liberation Projects, as well as coordinator of community outreach and education. At the Interactive Media Lab of the Geisel School of Medicine, he worked on interactive training programs for doctors and first responders. At Tiltfactor Game Lab for Digital Humanities at Dartmouth College, he served as technical consultant on diverse projects including Metadata Games, a FOSS game suite for libraries, archives, and other institutions to crowdsource metadata collection.
Robinson received his BA in Computer Science from Dartmouth College. He is a regular speaker at FOSS & Tech Conferences in the US and Europe and serves on the Engineering Steering Committee for The Document Foundation.