Technology in the Classroom
By Patti Hermes – Parent to Parent
Technology has become so ingrained in our daily lives, that many now take it for granted that everyone has constant access to the internet. Even in classrooms, teachers are now expecting their students to be able to connect to the internet at home, and communicate with parents through email and/or classroom web sites. But just as there are plenty of families who resist having a television in the home, there are plenty more who restrict or even deny internet access in their homes, for a variety of reasons.
The most obvious reason in many areas is cost, which, for some, is prohibitive. For the convenience of sitting at home, writing, homeschooling, teaching and gaming online, we have splurged on high-speed internet, and made it a priority in our family budget. In a family where the parents go to work in an office and the kids go off to school, where each has access to computers and internet during the day, an evening together may not include internet, other than a parent’s smart phone. I know of some families that are limited to the public library for internet access, and they manage to keep up with their work and schooling just fine that way.
In the first days of school, my son brought home a multitude of forms from his high school teachers requesting that I sign off on technology policies, provide my email address for communication, one asked for information about his home access to devices, and one simply requested that he print off class notes daily to bring to class (without asking if that was actually possible to do at home). Nowhere did I see any question specifically addressing access to the internet.
This is definitely an area where parents need to band together and plan contingencies for when needed access is hard to find. The Haves should reach out to the Have Nots (regardless of their reasons), particularly at project times and exam times. Additionally, even those that rely on their own home wi-fi can find themselves in a bind when a printer inexplicably refuses to print, or when there’s an unexpected service outage. These are excellent deterrents to waiting to the last minute, which can have catastrophic consequences on grades when the student is unable to complete their assignments.
Regardless of their reasons for not having internet, schoolchildren should not be penalized, or told to just “find a way” to complete their assignments. It is largely beyond their control. While the age of “the dog ate my homework” is pretty much gone, it has been replaced by “our internet was out”. And instead of parents stepping back and letting our children take responsibility for their own work, we end up being more involved in deadlines and internet-required projects. So much for technology making our lives easier.