Are Schools Ready?

July 25, 2011

The South Korean Ministry of Education reported that by the end of 2015, they will have moved all student over to digital school books using tablet technology (such as the iPad), and are willing to spend 2 billion dollars US to make it happen:

This article really got me thinking about what we are doing here in Canada, and about whether or not our provincial Ministry of Education representatives are doing everything in their power to prepare our kids, like South Korea, for the digital evolution, thus giving our youth a strategic/educational advantage in today’s digital world. Over the past year, I have had the opportunity to present in several public school districts in our province, specific to Internet safety and digital citizenship, and it is with a heavy heart that I have to report that we are failing our kids (and our teachers) in this regard. Rather than embracing, harnessing, and teaching digital citizenship, I have found that most school districts would rather set up digital fences to prevent online access, which only causes students and even teachers to become digital rogues.

Like it or not, the digital evolution is here to stay, and school districts and the Ministry of Education (especially here in BC) need to hop on board in an enabling way. Much like South Korea, we need to fund our school system and provide teachers not just with the technology, but also the training needed to create a safe and educational digital learning environment that can be customized to meet the needs of today’s tech savvy student. Teachers have the passion to capture the hearts and minds of our kids, now let’s give them the technology and training to really enhance their passion. Like it or not, this is going to take capital funding to make this happen and it today’s fiscally challenging environment, this is becoming more and more difficult.

In contrast, I have also presented to several independent schools. Now this is not a posting on the benefits of public vs. private education, but it is very apparent to me that the private schools that I have presented to “get it.” These schools have not only fully integrated technology into their classrooms to enhance the learning experience, but have also spent the time to provide their teaching staff with the technological education needed to become digital educators. Why the digital divide between the public and private school system; it’s not because of passion, as all teachers have the passion to teach, it’s because the private school system has the financial ability to do so because they are privately funded.

Our public schools, like their brothers and sisters in the private school system, need:

  • Increased funding specific to digital education
  • Increased internet access speeds
  • Newer computers (you should see some of the beast that are still in use in some public schools)
  • More computers
  • Tech support
  • The ability to access quality sites that are often “filtered” by districts
  • Updated policy specific to digital citizenship in the school that clearly outlines desirable and undesirable activities and the consequences of such.
  • Professional development specific to digital citizenship and the use of technology in the classroom

We need to let our elected officials know that we need to increase our capital investment into digital integration (both human and technological) in our public school system, much like South Korea is doing because if we don’t, we are not best preparing our kids for the future, and is that not what schools are for!

Digital Food For Thought

Darren Laur

AKA #thewhitehatter

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