Part of the planning phase of our trip out here included the idea of facilitating a leap frogging of development of ICT skills and integration within Captonian classrooms. “Mistakes were made,” to quote Pres. Reagan, in our development of skills and integration techniques. What if we could help start the discussion here halfway through, rather than at the very beginning.
Do teachers need to learn PowerPoint, Excel and Word in a world of OpenOffice and Google Docs? Don’t start with the proprietary when you can jump to the free and/or transparent.
The last couple of weeks, though, have me rethinking that thesis for a few reasons.
1) Proprietary software and hardware companies are on the ground here selling their products and establishing early brand recognition and loyalty.
While I would rather all the players got a fair shake, it’s not as though Firefox is walking into schools and offering to set up labs or fund laptop carts. The drive to increase market share is pushing companies into schools down here and, like it or not, that’s getting the tools into the hands of the learners.
2) The connectivities not there to ensure freedom of search.
I know much of what I know about what’s available online because I have not only the time but the bandwidth and connection points to graze the interwebs for new information, tools and thinking. That’s not necessarily the case here. Be it download caps, narrow bandwidth, lack of access or whatever, the freedom of search isn’t provided for a wide enough segment of the online population. Google Docs are just as cool, but not nearly as useful if your computer lab is still running IE6. If someone has described every problem as a nail, all you want is a hammer.
3) A natural technological evolutionary path might exist.
My ability to function in ActivStudio, WordPress, Wordle, et al. is owed to the fact that, like it or not, Windows was my primer. Proficiency with Windows 95 on my family’s old Gateway 2000 provided me with a familiarity and ease of navigation once I moved to OS X or Ubuntu. If today’s tools are the result of a technological evolutionary pattern, it’s beginning to make sense that mastery then innovation then creation of the next tools will require an initial understanding of the basic architecture and then a following of the natural progression.
Given the thinking above, I’m still holding out hope that meeting the original goal is possible. Given the proper resources, the development of ICT skills and integration can experience a mutation and jump along the evolutionary path.