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Why Do Schools Suck at Digital?

Looks like I’ll be spending another year wondering why our schools aren’t using technology like they could be.
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I went to our school’s website to see if my son’s teacher had placed her classroom supplies list online. I dug around the site for quite a while with no luck. Did I mention that I was in the school supplies aisle at the store? So why isn’t that kind of info easily available to us through a website? The idea that I’d need to drive any place to get an actual printed list of information is kind of unbelievable.Looks like I’ll be spending another year wondering why our schools aren’t using technology like they could be. As Mitch Hedberg used to say, "There's no need to bring ink and paper into this."

It’s the digital divide between what we do every day, and what teachers and schools are able, willing, or competent to provide. Nothing quite sets the stage like the handouts, the miles and miles of paper that will soon be making its way into your house. The info that you desperately need about an assignment or an activity, and the website that hasn’t been updated since the Halloween party--the Halloween party of 2009.Sometimes I feel like I’m in the middle of two different worlds: the analog, printed world I grew up in and the digital instant world of today--and I’m dragging along a set of people who haven’t moved away from analog. Really, there’s almost no excuse. We had Commodore 64s in the elementary school I attended; teachers have had almost 30 years to prepare for the digital age. Why has it not been embraced? Is it the reluctance of the parents or the fear of the teachers?

A perfect illustration is Stephanie's post on school assignments and libraries: Teachers refusing to take electronic sources even though it's where publishing is going.

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It would be so much easier for parents and for the schools to make the move to mostly digital. More importantly, our children are facing a digital world and our schools are keeping them anchored in a time that no longer exists. The fear of computers, of the internet, and of technology in some schools isn’t just annoying, it’s a serious issue (and I'm not even addressing in this post the schools and communities that lack the resources to even offer digital solutions.)

I'm not asking for custom apps built for each school or classroom. I'm saying that the websites are already built: why are people printing out copies of things that could be uploaded? Why isn't there an RSS feed for announcements and assignments? And for that matter, what about the parents who won't use the electronic resources that schools ARE trying to implement?

It goes beyond what’s convenient for us as we’re standing in the aisle at Target trying to decide which pack of pencils to pick up, to preparing our kids for the reality of our world.

What do you think can be done to bring our schools into this new age?


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