DAILY INSIGHT: Focus on teaching, not tech

By Trevor Hope, CIO Advisor

My district is one of many that has not gone 1:1 yet, but we are talking about it and researching it and budgeting for it. Going 1:1 is on a lot of people’s minds these days, and I think it should be. I wrote in a previous piece that I think we have outgrown 1:1, that in our own lives we use more than one device on a daily basis, so why not our students? But I’m getting ahead of myself; for a district that is at about a 2:1 ratio of students to computers, 1:1 would be fantastic.

Seven years ago, I implemented a 1:1 program at a previous district. They have graduated to different devices now, but are still in the 1:1 program, and by most accounts it is a success. If you walked the classrooms before the computers arrived, you would find good to great teaching, for the most part. The same held true after the computers arrived the next year.

As I visit more districts and have worked in more districts since that time that are not 1:1, I still see great teaching. Yes, these districts have access to technology but not on the 1:1 scale, yet they still exhibit phenomenal teaching practices. In a lot of cases I would say better than the district with 1:1.

My point is, technology is a tool. Laptops, tablets, Chromebooks, netbooks, these are all tools. These tools can enhance good teaching, make teaching better, but can also make bad teaching even worse. The focus of a district has to always be on the teaching and the learning with the technology fitting in where it makes sense. I have seen many 1:1 districts become complacent and rely on the technology to do too much. A good website or app will never replace a good teacher.

Trevor Hope is director of technology at Mount Prospect School District 57 in Illinois. Follow him on Twitter as @trevhope.