Reliable funding for tech in schools

Technology products in classrooms are here to stay. Accepting that premise means finding a way to provide funding on an ongoing basis.

Reliable funding for tech in schools by Nancy Knowlton

Does anyone really believe that tablets, smart phones, computers and other technology products don’t belong in today’s classrooms? For me, the following comment from Nicholas Negroponte says it all to skeptics: “Computing is not about computers any more. It is about living.”

Integrating technology products

What some people think of as a nice-to-have or a frill is actually critically essential in educating 21st century students for the world they live in today and will confront tomorrow. Integrating technology products into everyday teaching and learning activities puts the emphasis in the right place – on learning through technology rather than learning about technology.

Refreshing technology products

The perspective that it is enough to buy a few computers and install a network is not just inadequate, it’s myopic. Just as textbooks are refreshed every 5 to 8 years (which for some subjects seems like a lifetime), so too must technology products be refreshed regularly. The investment never stops.

There is no question that the scale of the initial investment is significant. Getting all classrooms in a school or district outfitted is an expensive proposition, but it would be a mistake to think that the investment is only the purchase of the hardware that teachers and students use. The other substantial costs include network access, ongoing teacher professional development and increasingly content subscriptions.

Combining free and paid-for resources

Many people have been hopeful that free digital materials would be all that’s needed – cost is always on people’s minds – but it will most likely be a combination of free and paid-for resources that will satisfy both teachers’ and students’ needs in the classroom and at home.

Let’s accept that technology products (and their proper use) aren’t a frill but rather a necessity in today’s 21st century classroom. How can we then rationalize the lack of predictable, adequate funding to ensure the hardware, software, content and training are in place to allow for a successful integration into everyday teaching and learning?

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Nancy Knowlton
Nancy Knowlton is co-founder and CEO of Nureva Inc. and previously the co-founder and CEO of SMART Technologies. She writes about education, entrepreneurship, business management, technology, innovation and other passions.