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Equal Access Doesn't Equal Seat Time

We have a computer lab and every class gets to spend the same amount of time in the lab each week. However, when I visit the lab, I see that some teachers have students working on a variety of different technology-based activities while others seem to rely exclusively on drill and practice software to fill the time. Are we really giving all our students equal access to our instructional technology program?

While they may be spending identical amounts of time in the lab, equal access is more than seat time. The children whose instructional technology activities are limited to drill and practice do not have the same quality experience as those children who are engaging in a broad spectrum of activities that capitalize on the unique capabilities of computers and telecommunications. That doesn't mean that there isn't a time and place for drill and practice. However, if this is the only technology exposure children have, they are not being afforded equal access.

The situation you describe calls for discussion with your staff to find out why there is such a disparity in activities. You may need to offer targeted professional development to assist teachers in moving to more sophisticated levels of instructional use and/or reconsider existing grade level expectations for technology-supported curriculum.

Submitted by: Susan Brooks-Young

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