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Technology: At-Home Ed Tech

21st Century Homework Station


Q. I always thought the classroom of the future would involve dissecting space aliens and riding on flying saucer-shaped schooldesks. Well, that hasn't quite worked out, but the future is already here - in the form of digital technology! I'd like to supply our sons with an up-to-date homework "center" that goes beyond a desk and chair. What are the important pieces of technology that a good student should have for 21st Century home educational experiences, to support what is happening at school?


If there's one thing that drives parents crazy, it's buying their child an expensive home computer . . . only to see the child unable to write a single declarative sentence on that expensive computer without making several errors of spelling, grammar, punctuation and capitalization.


Parents and taxpayers are insisting that schools do a better job delivering on their "low-tech" educational mission - making kids literate, numerate and able to think well - BEFORE more money is expended on high-tech educational initiatives, including spending a lot of money on technology.


The feeling is that, if the technology is added to the quiver of learning tools, it should provide a significant gain in terms of flexibility, range, interest and achievement boost.


If kids are only going to use their laptops and iPads to download photos of their favorite pro athlete scoring, or if they are only going to play "Hangman" or draw stick figures on their expensive smartboard, then it would seem to make a whole lot more sense to keep the learning equipment "low-tech," too.


With that reality firmly established, yes, it would help a student a lot to have ed tech available at home to complement and supplement the school-day experiences and continue learning into evenings, weekends and summertime.


Parents who can afford it might want to think seriously about equipping their child or children with a 21st Century "homework station" with outlets and lighting to go with:


         A desktop computer or laptop


         A iPad for mobile learning






         Nintendo or Wii system




         Webcam and/or digital videocamera


         Kindle or other e-reading device


. . . and on and on the list goes.


A generation ago, loving parents with means would purchase a set of encyclopedias and have them available in the homework area at their home, along with a dictionary, thesaurus, scissors, pencils, a compass and a ruler. Those things are all still great (except maybe have the encyclopedia be online or on disk). It's always going to be appropriate to provide good lighting, and a comfy chair or beanbag in which to read or study. Of course, a shelf full of great novels will always come in handy, too.


But the most important feature in a 21st Century home learning station is the one thing money can't buy - the love, attention and encouragement of an engaged and interested parent.



Homework: For a glimpse of some of the other things going on with ed tech, see this conference website and check out the various exhibitors:


By Susan Darst Williams Technology 2011


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