The District’s Design for Computer Labs & Ignoring Human Nature

handkeysSomewhat related to my last journal entry is the rumored intension of my district that there will eventually be no “special” persons assigned to the labs but that all teachers become capable of conducting class using the computer lab. Again, on the surface that seems like a reasonable goal, that all teachers have the confidence and skills to guide their classes through a lesson in the computer lab as much as in any other environment. Granted, it’s not a thought that warms the hearts of too many computer lab teachers, to feel like the district would rather get rid of us. But it is our overall goal to equip our teachers to fully use technology as part of their normal classroom routine. So, in this we’re in agreement that it is better to have all teachers’ level of expertise with technology raised to the point where a specially assigned person would be unnecessary.

At the same time, to determine the outcome of having an unmanned computer lab all one has to do is find out what happened to all of that P.E. equipment that was purchased last year and stored in a closet to be checked out by teachers on a first come/first served basis. Generally it’s been my experience, without having someone ultimately in-charge of the equipment, everything eventually begins to disappear. It’s a pain in the ass to be missing a couple hundred dollars in P.E. equipment. It’s entirely another things when laptops end up “missing.” In my previous site where we only purchased one laptop, that one laptop went “missing” the school year following my departure with no repercussions toward the last teacher on record to have used it.

If I take off for more than a couple of days (for Pepperdine F2F, for example), I never know what I’ll return to. It isn’t all that bad, but there is a definite sense that the staff prefers having someone there to take care of things rather than having to fend for themselves. I mean, even in the classroom, one of the reasons that teachers often delay buy-in is the reliability or unreliability of their equipment. When I started, I understood that I was pretty much on my own and it was my money that I’d spent so I was going to put some effort into making this stuff work. The current generation of teachers do not necessarily have that same understanding (especially when it comes to the powers that be “dumping” technology in their classrooms).

So, in terms of equiping our teachers, the goal of having tech-savvy teachers who are comfortable working in the computer lab is something to be aspired to. But, that is not the same thing as having no one in the computer lab who is ultimately responsibility to keep everything in working order. Along that line, there are numerous tech support plans (including training the students to be the tech support), but ultimately someone has to be in charge as a part of their regular routine. I mean, as technology educator, I’m aware that if I’m doing my job I will eventually train myself out of a job. I guess we’ll see how they implement their plan. If it’s like anything else that I’ve seen in terms of careful long term planning, they’ll probably just cut funds to the point where things fall apart and then abandon it all in place. ugh. JBB