Much has been written about the inequity of the availability of computers and communications tools between different schools. However, the digital divide between teachers exists even in technology rich schools. As Will points out, there are many teachers who have no idea of the power and potential already sitting in their own classrooms.
So, is it possible to help these teachers move faster in their understanding of how to best use what they have - maybe before the next wave of innovation hits? I agree with Will that it’s going to be difficult to impossible as the gap continually widens.
I agree that many of the computers that are sitting in classrooms all over the US are not being fully utilized. But, I can and do disagree that the problem with full implementation lies with unaware teachers. A far bigger problem is that a desktop computer, by itself, is not as helpful as TARGETED TECHNOLOGY.
What is targeted technology?
For the Math teacher, it's 1 computer, and a class set of graphing calculators. Along with some type of projection system that will let him/her show the students what he/she is putting into his calculator, and how it should look when he/she does. That projection can run from around $300 - $3,000. Better that ALL math teachers in the district get a low-end system, than a few get the bells and whistles, and the rest nothing. That last situation is too often the case. Administrators are often impressed by the Porsche systems.
For the English teacher, it might be computers, laptops (to enable students without one to check them out overnight), or, for the relatively low-end solution, the AlphaSmart. The AlphaSmart additionally is less likely to be ripped off.
For the Science teacher, it's 10 graphing calculators, along with probeware to collect data on. Along with a hefty budget for training. The electronic stuff has a steep learning curve. If you have some equipment sitting, and no idea how to use it, go to the PTRA site, and look into booking a workshop. They work. I know. That's how I was trained.
Tech is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. The amounts needed to different teachers may be different. The egalitarian may complain about that.
There is nothing more infuriating to me than equipment not being used, still sitting on someone's desk, just because it's "fair".
No, it's not. If the teacher won't make the effort to learn how to use it, take it away, and give it to someone who will. Unused, it's becoming more obsolete by the minute.