Technology is a Steamroller

I don't remember where I saw this quote but it stuck with me:
"Technology is a steamroller. If your not driving the steamroller, you're just part of the road."

Teach Paperless just blogged about the importance of technology in the classroom as a benefit to our students and their lives.

He made four major points:
  1. Technology facilitates quality learning.
  2. Technology creates authentic assessment and learning.
  3. Everyone needs internet access for information.
  4. Teachers need to embrace technology to benefit student learning.
Notice that 3 of the 4 are student centered and focus on learning. I truly believe that technology, used correctly and appropriately, creates high quality, engaging learning for today's students. I see changes for the better in student engagement and learning when I pull up a website, incorporate iTunes, have them work on a blog, add to the wiki or vote using student response systems.

That being said, I would push most highly for wide-spread internet access. This still is relevant to education but also impacts greater society as well. Television is free. It is a means for spreading information. That has been great for the past 50 years.

The next 50 years need to have free internet access for everyone. That is the new way to spread information. The next 50 years after that will bring some new technology to dissemination of information.

What does Internet Access Look Like?

The city of Minneapolis has a good model going. There is a wireless blanket over the city that provides Wireless Minneapolis to every resident of the city. There is a paid version of this but its lower than the other options in the city.

Wireless access that you have to pay for isn't that interesting. Here's where it gets interesting: Community Gardens. A garden on the internet? Watching plants grow? Sounds exciting.

It's free wireless access to community resources that anyone with a wireless card can access. Here's the home page. From there, there is access to all kinds of things, including schools. On the Minneapolis schools page, they recently added access to the district Moodle server and student/staff email. That might make me rethink using the Moodle, as much as I'm not a fan of it.

Will the free version put our friends at Comcast and Qwest out of business. Not a chance. People will pay for faster, broader access. However, for our lower income or highly mobile students and families, this a great option. Constant access to email when you can't keep a phone line. Access to community services when you don't have a job. Links to art and culture. It's a good thing.

Thanks to Teach Paperless for my 15 minutes of inspired writing today.