Diversity of Computing

In recent years, education (especially K-12 schools) have adopted Google Suite and Chromebooks is serious way. I understand that… these devices are inexpensive and easy to manage and allow the difficult work of managing network operating systems to be “outsourced.” I do think this is being adopted with little skepticism, reflection, or consideration for what students may never experience.

I have previously argued for a diversity of computing devices in schools… I want schools that have Chromebooks, iOS, Android, Macintosh, Windows, Linux, and any other operating systems that can be accessed easily.

This diversity is a good thing. If students and teachers simply learn which buttons to click on a single ICT system then we must question how “technology literate” are; just like we would have to question the literacy of someone who could use only one series of books or the numeracy of someone who could answer only one type of math problem. My opinion is that a diverse computing experience prepares all to be more flexible and thus more competent and confident users of computers.

My concern extends as well to the illogical decision-making that many school leaders adopt when recommending Chromebooks. In several schools, I have documented an series of observations: First, the technology leaders announce they re only purchasing Chromebooks for students, faculty, and even administrators. Second, teachers find existing devices are failing, so they request new devices. Following the previous announcement, they request Chromebooks, despite the fact they find them to be inadequate for some purposes. They also request new Chromebooks as school leaders have deferred technology decisions to technology leaders (who are likely to have little teaching experience). Third, technology leaders take teachers requests for Chromebooks as evidence, “they really like Chromebooks.”

When I ask about (for example) video editing, technology leaders who only support Chromebooks point to a number of sites that allow simple video editing. When I ask about the options for students who want to create multi-track videos that include synchronized camera shots, picture in picture and other advanced features, I am told that “other teachers get by with the web site.”

“Getting by” is not what we want of our students and their emerging technology literacy. Authentic teaching and learning requires professional tools for information access, manipulation, and creation. This cannot be provided with a single computing platform.