Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Technology and Urban Schools

Recently for my Urban Education course I (with my class) went to Perth Amboy High School to observe teachers and the different teaching styles of educators in urban schools.  One of the biggest points my professor made was that you cannot make judgments off of one observation.  I agree with this because everyone has their bad days, but my experience in this classroom was enough to show me that education in urban schools is very different from that of suburban schools.  One difference that made me think of this course was the amount of technology available in this school.  In the math classroom that I observed there was no technology other than the computer that the teacher had on his desk and a very old projector.  This man who taught the class that I observed seemed to teach directly out of the book and to be honest was very hard to follow.  I couldn't imagine being a student in this classroom other than from watching students in this class it seemed that if I was a student in this classroom I'd be bored and thinking of other things.

From observing the rest of the school it looked like there really wasn't much technology throughout the rest of the school either.  I doubt many of the students here had the opportunity to use a computer lab or other types of technology even as little as once a month.  In a school that has 900 more students than it was build to hold, there are very rarely any classrooms that are empty, in fact we had a very hard time finding a place to come back together as a class after we had all done our observations, administrators wanted to hold a class in the room with us.

The whole situation really makes me think about how some of the technologies we talk about in this classroom are harder to use and implement than others in urban areas.  While teachers can apply for grants to obtain technology in schools, what else can we do to help schools in urban areas get resources that so many other schools and districts take for granted?  How do we justify getting these students technology when there are so many other things they may be in need of?  Also, in urban areas many students do not have easy access to computers at home so how can we make things like classroom wikis and blogs more accessible to all students?  I also find myself wondering if there are any resources available to teachers in urban schools to help them learn how to implement forms of technology into their classrooms (other than personal development workshops) when there are very few resources available to them.

These are just a few of the questions I had about technology and urban schools that I plan on investigating more thoroughly.  While I do see it being difficult to get technology into these classrooms I think that they can benefit so much from the enhancing capabilities of all different forms of technology.