IT Management in School Districts Essay
Today’s students are encircled by digital technology since they are born, and are primarily dissimilar from the earlier generations. In the past, technology was not included in most school curriculums. Two decades back, the educational standard in the US was better than most countries in the world. The performance of the students was superior as compared to the 21st Century. As a result the labor force that the country produced was much more competitive in the global marketplace. The former Secretary of State, Colin Powell, has indicated that today’s students are not primed to compete globally (Kagan & Stewart, 2004). The main issue that the school districts face is the technological access of the students to media for inquiry. Other problem that introduction to new technology into the classrooms brings is change in the educational process and teaching method. This paper discusses about the key issues that the school districts face because of the integration of technology into the curriculum. The paper also provides solutions to the problems that are identified and discussed in the paper.
Technology has assumed a considerable stake in the educational and social lives of the students in school districts. Some say it has proved to be a catalyst for teaching and learning in the class rooms. As the years are passing the use of technology has been increasing in the workplace and the international recruiters demand the labor to be literate in new technology. For this reason, the school districts are including the technology education and technology itself in the learning process of the children. Nearly every school district nowadays has access to internet and technological applications incorporated in the educational system (Goldman et al, 1999).
Integration of technology in the school curriculum may be a solution to the need of technological literacy, but it is also a problem. The appearance of the classrooms has changed (Deutsch, 2005). The learning atmosphere is no longer reflected by anterior teaching where the instructor is keenly engaged upfront and the students are seated. Teachers are now supervisors and facilitators who manage the classroom and assign work to the students. Frontal lectures have been replaced by students’ performance (Deutsch, 2005). Computer rooms or classrooms with computers need supervision and organization. Task scheduling and student rotation are important aspects of a computer laboratory. Student rotation needs to be planned by the teachers in an efficient way (Deutsch, 2005).
This problems or students rotation arises when the number of computers available is less than the number of students. Students execute tasks at different pace and hence the all the learning activities are not effective (Deutsch, 2005). The students who are fast in working with computers need to be provided more work to reduce the spare time they have (Deutsch, 2005). One of the major issues the children’s parents are most concerned about is that the students get access to all kind of information on internet. When the students are not under supervision, they tend to look for what they desire. Most students often visit adult sites which they are not allowed to. Once they are able to locate the adult website, they may tell their friends also and the chain will go on as every student will know about this. Problems that are caused because of this are very serious. The students tend to devote less time on their studies as their minds drift away towards other activities. At home, to keep a check, most of the parents supervise their children when they are using the internet. In schools, mostly there is no supervision on the students which makes them visit inappropriate sites.
Another issue that the parents and the teachers are facing is the issue of plagiarism. A decade back when technology had a lesser degree of involvement in the school districts, the students had limited access to information. This information included the school library, magazines and course books only for referencing. Now the students have access to unlimited knowledge in forms of online databases, media contents, magazines and articles on websites. Most of assignments that the teachers give are required to be submitted in printed form. This makes the work of the students much easier as they can find tons of relevant information online and they can just copy and paste it in their assignment. In this case the student is not learning anything from the assignment as he is using someone else’s work in his assignments. Plagiarism makes the student addicted to it once he starts doing it. Schools administrators need to be vigilant on this emerging issue. For this reason, they try to educate the students about the plagiarism and they make strict policies on plagiarism. The students are taught that plagiarism is unethical and the ways of avoiding plagiarism are also taught in the schools to shun the plagiarism element in the future. But the students tend to indulge themselves more in this unethical and illegal behavior.
One more related issue is the copyright concerns for the school administrations and the parents as well. This issue arises when the student uses the school computer to use some copyright material in his own work or on a different website. Many of the school districts fail to provide a right mix of technology that is required in the school. The school administration most of the time also fails to provide an ongoing training to the teachers and the technological support team which is not able to implement the controls needed. All these schools define their security policy and threaten to take a strict action against any one who breaks the rules or controls. But still the problem of accessing inappropriate files and using them some where else is an ongoing issue in the school districts. The schools administration is not able to protect all the data, hardware and software and even their computer in the district. Millions of laptops are stolen every year from the classrooms which include important teachers’ data about the course material, students’ grades, their marking for the whole years and exam results. The laptop may also include important data that the students use. The people who steal the laptop take with them this important data and software and cause the schools to lose millions of dollars in this case.
Many teachers and administrators still see the computers and technology as some out of the world invention. It has posed a threat to the comfortable life of teachers as the students have become more literate and prone to technology. The students can perform difficult tasks on computers more efficiently than the teachers. The teachers are unable to plan work for the students in the classrooms which wastes a lot of time of the students. The technology of video conferencing has caused a lot of ease for the schools as the teacher is not necessarily required in the classroom to teach the students. The perception of the teachers of their students’ capabilities can change noticeably when technology is included in the school curriculum. As this change occurs, the teachers find themselves acting more as coaches and managers, and less as lecturers.
With the advent of technology, the payment of fees and dues has been made very easy. The students’ parents are able to pay their fees online through credit cards or using their bank account. The information about the credit cards can be transmitted from one place to another which causes the schools to get fees online. Thieves can invade online and steal the credit card number from the schools records or websites if proper measures are not taken to secure the database. The scope of the invasion varies; some thieves may even manipulate the credit information online. The worst part is that the schools and the parents do not publicize the losses most of the time because of which the thieves get more lose ends.
Solution to the Challenges
For effective use of technology, the schools district should develop and impose policy for the use of technology. These rules should be made public to inform all the students, the teachers, staff members and the parents. The school district should take measures to limit the access of media contents and online databases to the students. Computer software that blocks inappropriate websites and internet contents should be installed to deal with this issue.
These sites include the adult websites, social networking websites, unrated media contents and gaming websites. This cyber patrol will not allow the students to visit these unsuitable websites. The content which is inappropriate for the school students is automatically blocked. This will reduce the expenditure for the school administration as student supervision will not be required. The teachers should keep the students occupied with proper learning activities to challenge them. In the 21st Century, the teacher’s job is no more than a facilitator and a manager of the classroom (Deutsch, 2005). To change this perception of the students, competitive teachers in the field of technology should be employed. These teachers should engage the students in effective learning activities that involve class discussions, making personal relations, negotiations and development of interpersonal skills. This can be achieved through dividing the students into pairs or teams and encourage class discussions (Deutsch, 2005). This will allow the teacher to work with other small teams or pairs. Making teams or pairs is also a solution to the inadequate number of computers in the classrooms.
The teachers should provide the students with clear guiding principles on school rules and policies in functioning with technology in the school (Deutsch, 2005). The students should be allowed to view articles, journals, magazines, educational streaming media so that they can learn to communicate effectively. To avoid plagiarism, students should not be allowed to copy any material from the web. The submission requirement of assignments and deliverables should be a soft copy rather than a hard copy.
The soft copy can be checked for the plagiarism with the use of plagiarism software. Therefore if anyone is caught copying someone else’s work from the internet, the student shall be fined, punished and penalized in the grade. Strict policies on plagiarism will keep it to the minimal level in the school districts.
Technology alone cannot solve the problems that it has spawned; therefore the collaboration of the parents, teachers and the administration can help the students to concentrate more on their studies. To be successful, however, technology must be used to endorse fresh learning objective and teaching stratagem that are in favor of students, mutual, appealing, genuine, independent, and based on expansion of thinking skills.
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