Technology is improving the effectiveness of instruction in so many ways, and it seems to be a student favorite. Funding is becoming an issue, though. I know in my own school our technology budget is zero. We have SMART boards in every class, and the bulbs for the SMART boards are $299. The bulbs last about two years. A lot of our SMART board bulbs went out on us this year. We are so used to teaching by SMART board that we teachers felt out of our element when we could not use our SMART boards. What is worse is that the students felt out of their elements, too! Our wonderful PTO stepped up and was able to purchase the bulbs for us. If they had not purchased them for us, the wonderful SMART boards we use so frequently would have just been the "elephant" in the room gathering dust. It is so sad that so many school systems have to decide between technology and teacher salaries or technology and things as simple as toilet paper and soap because we know how imperative it is that students use technology for the global, technology-based society in which we live.
Student privacy and safety is another issue. Teachers want privacy and safety for their students, and most take the measures they feel are necessary for protecting students in the Internet realm. Parents, however, often have different, stricter preferences for student safety. I know in my classroom, I had several students whose parents did not want their child’s faces to appear in any school website photos. I either had to cut those students out of our photos or place something over their faces before posting their pictures onto the Internet. On another note, student privacy is violated via Internet at home, sometimes, and students bring those issues to school with them. For example, a friend of mine had a student in her class who called another child a name on Facebook. The girls used Facebook on their own time at home, but the effects showed at school. One of the girls cried almost all day the next day at school, and many of the other students took sides – creating an even bigger, uglier situation. I do not know what my friend did in the end, but she considered calling the girls’ parents and suggesting that they not use Facebook anymore or that they have new rules for the technology in their homes. She did not want to encroach on the parents’ privacy, though.
We have learned from the history of technology that the emphasis no longer has to be about how we present information to students anymore. Technology is no longer only the means by which information is delivered (overhead projectors, film, etc.), and it is no longer something that only the teacher uses. Today we have the wonderful privilege of putting the emphasis on teaching students how to find information on their own, and the students are using the technology as well. We can teach students how to properly and appropriately use search engines such as Google to answer their questions. If we teach students how to identify reliable websites, we are empowering them to independently learn on their own!