Friday, August 28, 2009

A Kindle In Every Backpack? What Are Your Thoughts?


A short time back, I am embarrassed to admit when, I did not even know what a Kindle was and now there are some proponents of a plan to give every student a Kindle. While I love the idea of reducing the load in backpacks and the idea of consolidating all of the books that our children read into one neat spot, are we really ready for such a plan? It reminded me of Maine's plan to put a laptop in the hands of every middle school child. There is also a movement to put a laptop in the hands of each child in the world's poorest communities through the One Laptop Per Child initiative. For $199 you can donate a laptop that will go directly to a child in an impoverished part of the world.

Don't get me wrong, I love the concepts behind these ideas and I agree with the premise that our world is getting flatter each day as Thomas Friedman explained in The World Is Flat. While we could easily make a long list of the benefits of putting new technologies in the hands of our students and children all over the world, I still wonder about the implementation of these ideas and whether or not we are providing the training necessary to allow those getting these new technologies in their hands to make the best use of them.

It may be an oversimplification of the whole issue, but I think that we are also guilty of this type of thinking in schools when we spend a great deal of money on technologies (both hardware and software) without a full plan for implementation that includes sufficient training. I know that we are better off with all of the new equipment whether we have the training or not and that some improvements will take place because of the ability of so many individuals to train themselves without a formal plan to support their use of new technological devices/programs.

While developing a more balanced approach is much more time consuming, it is the only way to ensure that are numerous new resources (kindles, laptops, SmartBoards, etc.) are developed to their fullest capacity to support student learning.

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