Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Common Misconception #4 - Technology Integration is Expensive

In continuation with the Blog Series 8 Common Misconceptions about Technology Integration in Education it is time to focus on the money side of things.  So I bring you:

Integrating Technology in Education is to Expensive for my School/District to Afford

It is important to understand that Integrating Technology in Education CAN be expensive.  At the same time, it CAN be inexpensive.  In fact, technology peripherals CAN be completely FREE if teachers, administrators, schools, and districts are willing to put in the time and effort to apply for grants.  These grants will cover much of the equipment that you might normally purchase.  Every private company (Dell, Apple, HP, etc) have grants for education that offer opportunities to increase technology in your school.  A simple Google search will provide list of grants for educational technology from those companies.  If not from private companies, the federal government also has Grants that can be filled out by districts looking to increase technology.  For other Grant opportunities, here is a great list and a directory of federal and state Grants.

At the same time, technology integration IS completely free.  Web 2.0 has allowed schools and teachers to integrate technology with their students using zero dollars from their own pockets.  Who would have thought that we would spend more money on supplies (pencils, paper, binders, notebooks, etc) for our students then we would spend on technology to use with our students.  In actuality, getting teachers to "buy" into integrating technology is the only true cost.

If you are out of the loop on Web 2.0 and how to integrate all these GREAT free tools into your classroom, I suggest that you look at two handbooks that I created for the sole purpose of helping teachers integrate technology.  "Web 2.0 - A New Way to Lecture" and "Tools for the 21st Century Teacher" make great starting points for using several of the free tools that are available to you.  Every resource mentioned is completely free with the option of upgrading accounts to get more features.

When I first started teaching many of the resources, activities, lesson plans, etc., that I would find online required some form of membership to the site in order to access it (I remember that happening specifically for crossword puzzles, which now I get as a free download from Eclipse Crossword).  If I wanted to show a video, or even a video clip, I could be charged a lot of money for that video.  YouTube and other sites allow access to tons of free videos.

When it was time for the social studies department at my school to order textbooks, we "bartered" with the textbook companies.  We wanted to see who was going to not only give us the best deal and best textbooks, but also give us some extra perks in return for going with their company.  We were able to get digital projectors for our entire department for free because of how we communicated with the textbook company that we went with.  Schools are spending tens of thousands of dollars on textbooks, shouldn't the companies provide something MORE than a textbook, a few CD resources and online resources?

The COST of technology is all determined by the VALUE that you, your school, and your school district puts on integrating technology in your classroom/school.  What do I mean?  If you don't value integrating technology in the classroom, then you are not only "costing" students opportunities, but it will cost more in the long run because of a lack of focus on integrating technology.  If there is more value in technology integration, than schools will spend time filling out Grants, working with textbook companies and private companies, and encouraging the use of free Web 2.0 resources, therefore reducing the "cost" of technology integration.

Integrating technology in education is NOT expensive.  However, NOT integrating technology in education can prove to be COSTLY to your students and teachers.

Thoughts?  Comments?  Personal Experiences?