Thursday, January 17, 2008
Are we playing a zero sum game?
I just had a conversation with our 8th grade US History teacher this morning, Chuck Taft, about the incredible computer lab scheduling crunch that we continue to experience in our Middle School. Our middle school is made up of students in grades 5-8 with roughly 80 students per grade level. Each grade level has english, social studies, science, composition, literature, fine arts, physical education, foreign language, and a few elective opportunities here and there. Our Middle School has access to the following lab resources at USM: a traditional PC lab with 21 computers, a library with 8 computers, a mobile lab with 20 laptops, a science laptop cart with 10 computers, a middle school iMac studio with 9 computers, and a lab we share with our elementary school that has 20 computers. Chuck and I took a quick glance at our PC lab this morning and it was booked solid all the way until March 18th, our spring break! I suppose this is a good problem to have, but here is my issue...many teachers don't even bother to sign up for the lab because they know it will be booked! How can teachers plan for the spontaneous use of Internet technologies when they don't have spontaneous access? Of course the teachers have a classroom computer and a great deal can be done with that, but this doesn't allow students to actively engage with and create content. Furthermore, I'm getting ready to co-present a session at our in-service day on January 25th on web2.0 technologies and nearly 17 people have signed up for this learning opportunity. How can I, in good faith, put my best foot forward in this session and encourage teachers who are willing and interested to employ some of these tools in their classroom when I know that they won't be able to try things out very easily with their students because the lab is booked solid? If these teachers do dig up so lab time, are they taking time away from other teachers who are regular/semi-regular users of lab resources? Is this a zero sum game? Is a public WiFi system that allows students to bring in their personally owned computing devices the answer? Do we need more mobile labs? Is another lab the answer? HELP!!!