Back in April, 2009, The Ontario Public School Board Association released their technology policy document titled: “What If? Technology in the 21st Century“. In short, this document outlines what OPSBA believes to be the future direction in academic technology integration in Ontario public schools.
In reflecting on this document, I admit that it is exciting to see an important stakeholder in the education system in Ontario finally making a clear statement on the importance of integrating technology in classrooms to help students learn. For far too long, while individuals connected to the Ontario education system have called for more academic technology in classrooms, major stakeholders have generally shied away from making clear statements about the need to incorporate 21st century skills in today’s teaching and learning using 21st century technologies. Lip service is notwithstanding.
I’ve heard it said that one can tell where one’s priorities are not through the statements one makes but where one spends their money. If we take this version of “actions speak louder than words” to be true, then while this policy document is an important step, then the problem of the lack of suitable technology and professional development around the use of academic technology in schools remains. In fact, to help fight the provincial deficit, the provincial government has actually reduced the amount of money spent on academic technology for school. This puts more pressure on school boards to find ways to fund new equipment and infrastructure who, inevitably, passes this responsibility to individual schools. This negative trickle down policy simply results in less investment in areas where it is needed most while existing infrastructure continues to age.
The intent of this blog post is not to be all gloom and doom. Instead it is to point out that while the ideas presented in the policy document are important, it is equally important that we as a system take the next step and allocate resources in a significant way to improve the state of academic technology in schools and professional development for educators. The well-funded literacy and numeracy initiatives, and the improvement in EQAO scores that have resulted, have shown that with proper direction in both ideas and in resources, we can bring our education systems up to speed and evolue our practice to incorporate more authentic learning environemnts using academic technologies.