Wednesday, October 14, 2015

When a plan doesn't come together

Today, this blog post was published by our superintendent. As of yesterday, my middle schooler has used her Ipod for the following: playing games when she's finished lunch, playing games during lunch and using an app over the Wi-fi to text me. (She doesn't have data yet.)

Over lunch with another mom of a middle-schooler, she told me how many syllabi this year required the use of a tablet. Wow, big difference from our middle school. Her husband bought an Asus tablet for their daughter. Who came home upset upon being directed to download a crucial app for a class that was only available for...Apple devices.

This article proclaims the miracle of Howard County middle schoolers bringing their devices to school, but middle school parents would dispute this. Instead, they’re sitting at lunch with their heads focused on their screens. During classes, kids aren’t using them. At one school, when asked, a teacher said “We’re not sure what we’re doing with them yet. Maybe we’d have them scan a QR code.”

So…there’s not a plan.

Children are allowed to bring any device they want: tablet, Ipod, smartphone or Kindle. My daughter has an Ipod Touch that requires wi-fi for usage. It’s also got a three inch screen. If they scan a QR code to go to a website, her experience will differ greatly from a kid who’s using a tablet. The fact that there's no standard requirement for a smart device indicates that there's no structured plan. And for the kid that does not have a device?

Contrast this to Montgomery County Public Schools. They have been rolling out Chrome Books to their school system on a MULTI-YEAR basis. They have a plan! Our schools already have laptops that they use on a periodic basis. They have a Frequently Asked Questions sections and information on training for teachers. Our system website has information on Digital Responsibility for teachers. Our schools don't even have consistent wi-fi.

I find this lack of plan even more concerning due to a report recently by Anderson Cooper on CNN called Being 13. Kids are spending a lot of their day checking social media to see if they're getting "dissed" or if their friends are hanging out with other friends. If there's no plan, what is the point of them taking their device to school? To continue bullying each other and feeling bad about themselves?

Maybe some teachers have some ideas and that's great. But it seems like there's inconsistency throughout our country as to their usage. Our kids have plenty of ways to waste their time outside of school with electronic devices to the chagrin of their parents. Why inside too?