Out with the old and in with the new. That’s MSJ’s new direction, anyway. No, no, that doesn’t mean revamping the B, C, E, M, and N Wings (probably would have been faster to just exclude the A Wing…); our school is still pretty poor with cramped desks and overcrowded classrooms. True, it makes the Industrial Revolution’s sweatshop documentaries in history class so much more real, but unless you’ve been blessed with ignorance, it’s hard to ignore some major changes coming MSJ’s way.
In particular are the new interactive white boards the school plans on using. These interactive boards will allow teachers to project their desktop screen onto any large surface area and use a stylus to write on the projected image. Conversely, the notes from the projection can be sent to the computer like any other file. In effect, the technology is a large touch screen tablet reminiscent of the cool gadgets in Minority Report.
A major concern, however, is that school is the only place where kids are away from technology in their daily life. Additions to the classrooms like the whiteboard signifies departure from more traditional ways of teaching to digitalized, less personal education. But the benefits may be huge. Though MSJ is already literate in social technology, most of us aren’t as fluent in educational technology. Many colleges are now using software such as Matlab, Mathematica, Labview, which students at MSJ generally are uninformed about. Just like everyone in the generation before us had a typewriting class, MSJ should be preparing us for the future.
But, major changes don’t just happen. It’d be impractical to stick a laptop in front of some students and expect brighter intellectuals. Perhaps a more momentarily amused student but a simple technology change is not a long term solution by itself. The positive effects of using the interactive white boards would still call for interested students to be willing to utilize the advantages of the whiteboard. Students sleeping in the back of the classroom will be taking their naps, whiteboard or no whiteboard. Principal Sandra Prairie commented, “These tools are for engaging the classroom, not an end all be all solution.”
That said, it’s not exactly reassuring that these tools will even have widespread practicality anytime soon. Teachers would still have to be trained to teach with them, let alone learn some savvy skills to quickly troubleshoot any problems that might interrupt teaching. Funds, somewhat of an anomaly nowadays, would still have to be allocated to implement the technology around the school.
These kinds of problems make the technology change in the classroom relatively inert. Though I support the effort to bring MSJ into the next generation of learning and applaud the administration, teachers, and parents working to push this agenda through, I can’t help but be just a little skeptical. ▪