Technology Hurdles In Canadian Education

The Canadian education system is struggling to deal with the speed and complexity of our digital age.  In some instances it looks like decision makers view technology as a passing fad that will eventually be replaced.  They’re sadly mistaken!  Canadian educator’s and the institutions which support them need to change.  The biggest change needs to be a shift in teaching pedagogy.  Educators need to move away from acting as content deliverer’s to acting as content facilitator’s in order to engage the digital learners we see in our classroom’s today.  These are some of the challenges technology savvy educators experience in Canada:

  1. Canada’s Privacy Act combined with the U.S. Patriot Act makes it difficult for Canadian educator’s to take advantage of the latest web2.0 tools with their learners.  The Canadian government doesn’t allow educators to store any type of student information on servers outside of the Canada.  You can see the disadvantage our learners face over those south of the border.  Our learners are unable to take advantage of many collaborate tools such as Google Apps, Skype, social-bookmarking, RSS feeds, blogging software, and any other web2.0 tool which requires email registration.
  2. From a more local perspective I’m not convinced School District’s put a high enough priority on finding the right people to run and maintain their IT departments.  I realize it’s a difficult task keeping current with the latest software and hardware, but the days of spending thousands of dollars on licences for Microsoft Word are gone.  Cloud computing is the future and our IT department’s need to support teacher’s with their needs.
  3. The fear of student’s owning email addresses exhibited by superintendent’s and administration’s is difficult to understand, and even more difficult to explain away when student’s ask, “Why can’t we just create Gmail accounts?”  Creating or migrating to a new email server is time-consuming I agree, but the desire to move with any type of forward momentum seems to be drastically lacking.
  4. Funding for technology and technology integration in Canadian public schools is within the control of each school.  Clearly it’s not working!  I feel there needs to be a standard established, and maintained, for technology hardware in our elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools.  The days of taking classes down to the computer lab, filled with outdated and poorly maintained machines, to work on typing skills should be a thing of the past, but it’s not.  It’s the reality in many schools.  The shift needs to be made from using technology as an add on to the tools we use to get things done.  Netbooks, interactive whiteboards, electronic projectors, and freedom to use web2.0 tools should be the norm in classroom’s throughout Canada, not the exception.

Solutions to these issues need to be sort before we lose a generation of learner’s to boredom.  Is it possible that in the future, if we don’t address the technology divide, that some students will opt to educate themselves and severely impact public education as we know it?

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