…larger than just machines

I got some interesting comments from yesterday’s weblog about teachers excusing themselves from learning to use and teach with new technologies — or as I prefer to put it, to teach from the new information environment. Both Jim and Joe made very good points that I could not agree with more. By the way, it was great to see Joe Webb again at the SRTTC Conference in Greenville last week. I knew Joe well back during my days at the State Department of Public Instruction.

One of the problems with blogging is that you never say it all. But that’s really a good thing, because what you leave out is the catalyst for conversation. And that’s what blogging is about, Conversation.

Also last week, I attended the MEGA meeting in Raleigh. I know that I have described MEGA before, but briefly, it is an organization of technology using educators in the Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill area. Last week was their showcase meeting where a number of schools and other organizations demonstrated what they were doing to promote appropriate uses of technology in the classroom. I took my iPod and iTalk along and plan to include some conversations during upcoming podcasts.

The featured presentation was moderated by the director of instruction for Green County Schools, a very small, rural school district in Eastern North Carolina, that has invested heavily in a 1 to 1 initiative. Before the tech facilitators got up to describe laptop use in the elementary, middle, and high schools, she relayed that at the beginning of the project, the district’s superintendent told the IT staff that if the network went down, they should treat it like the school was on fire.

This is the way that we should be looking at technology in our schools, from teacher assistants through the superintendent to the board of education and county commissioners. In the schools that adequately prepare our children for their future (and ours), the information infrastructure is as critical as heating, electricity, water and all of the other infrastructures that call technicians to action.

I agree, Jim. 21st century schools require Technology, Time, and Training. It requires a different kind of classroom, a different structure to the school day, and teachers who ARE life-long learners.

Bill Gates recently said that companies like Microsoft are having a tough time finding enough qualified Americans to hire. He also said that immigration policies are threatening our competitiveness. H-1B guest worker visas are now limited to only 65,000 per year. For 2005, they were all taken the very first day of the government’s fiscal year. It is no wonder that IBM, Intel, and Microsoft are now setting up research centers in India and China. China is graduating four times the number of engineers each year as the U.S. Japan, a country with less than half the population of the U.S., graduates twice the number of engineers.

Does this mean that we need to hunker down and start pushing technology and math. I don’t know. But it does seem that something needs to change — FAST.

This information came from a reference to a May 5 Wall Street Journal editorial. I do not have a subscription, so could not verify. But here is a news (RSS) feed to references in the news to Bill Gates and H-1B.

RSS Chicklethttp://www.justinpfister.com/gnewsfeed.php?q=%22gates%22+%22H-1b%22