The chart* shows the results of a recent survey of teachers in St. Vrain. They were asked to rank the technologies listed (in their opinion) in order of importance to aid in student learning and accomplishing the goals of the district.
Laptops or desktops came out as the most important technology listed. In our district, classrooms have administrative workstations for grades, attendance, email and etc. They are called thin clients and use the Citrix Enterprise system. They are great cost effective devices for administrative processes, but do not lend themselves to the instructional environment as the picture and sound capabilities are not high quality, and there are no drives for playing or burning cd's or dvd's, but they are sort of cloud computing at the district level. Not really cloud computing, but in the atmosphere between the desk and the cloud perhaps as the storage is in a server "farm" at the district's technology building. Desktops and laptops are in many of the classrooms and we've begun a conscious effort to provide equity of instructional desktops/laptops to the classrooms.
Projectors, the 2nd highest rated technology, coupled with the laptop/desktop for instruction is also being installed across the district consciously. These two devices coupled with our faster and more open access to the "cloud" is providing for global learning in the classrooms. Global learning is, I believe, where "it's at" today. If we are not helping our kids to learn globally, they will not be prepared for college and the work world.
Document camera's, the technology that ranked third, is an amazingly wonderful tool. It is the tool nation-wide that all educators are clamoring to use. They too require the projector, but eliminate the need for an overhead projector, enables you to use your old overhead projector materials, but also adds a deeper learning possibility through all of the things it can do. See document camera uses, capabilities for more information.
The fourth on the list is interactive whiteboards. We've recently begun to rethink their value versus expense and use. What do you think? I'm not sure they should be fourth on the list any more, but perhaps slates should be on the list instead. We had one school return all of the IWB's as they couldn't buy one for every classroom and then purchased slates for every classroom with the funds. It "walks around the classroom", isn't fixed to the wall, and meets the student where they are rather than pressuring the student at the front of the classroom. Just ponderings.
The last item, an audio enhancement system, should be higher perhaps. It is the one tool with documented data showing there are real benefits to it's use. Teachers are less tired at the end of the day, students can hear, no matter where they sit in the room, and students with special issues around sound are more easily accommodated. But they only help if you use them.
What do your teachers consider the top five most important tech tools in the classroom for student learning?
*2009 SVVSD Educational Technology teacher survey question results.