Local residents in Howard - Suamico School District seem to have taken note of changes underway. In a 2011 community engagement survey, 79 percent of all respondents indicated “Technology and Engineering” as their highest priority course offering.” In a separate survey, however, 60 percent of Howard - Suamico teachers specified they did not have “enough access to technology to meet teaching and learning needs.”
In his book, That Used To Be Us, Thomas Friedman underscores the point another way:
Average is officially over. In a hyper-connected world where so many talented non-Americans and smart machines that can do above-average work are now easily available to virtually every employer, what was “average” work ten years ago is below average today and will be further below average ten years from now. Think of the world as one big classroom being graded on a curve. Well, that curve is steadily rising as more brainpower and computing power and robotic power enters the classroom. As a result, everyone needs to raise his or her game just to stay in place, let alone get ahead of other workers. What was an average performance in the past will not earn an average grade, an average wage, or a middle-class standard of living (Friedman, 2011).
Background on Mobile Computing
The 1:1 student-to-computer learning movement dates back to approximately 2001, when the first large-scale initiatives were implemented in Henrico County Public Schools, Virginia, in partnership with Apple, and in Irving Independent School District in Texas, in partnership with Dell. Since then, other notable implementations have occurred - such as the Maine-Apple laptop initiative – thereby increasing awareness and curiosity in how best to implement universal mobile computing in the school setting.
While these early initiatives achieved modest successes, they were in fact ahead of their time. There was little prior knowledge about best practices for such reforms, and the core ingredients for success including platforms, curriculum, devices, and networks were in their infancy. Though interest was emerging, the traditional “factory based” design of schooling remained the prevailing instructional delivery model. While international competition was increasing, US economic prowess was largely unmatched; thus posing no direct challenge to the age-old lecture-driven and textbook-based style of teaching.
Fast-forward 12 years to the present and we see a dramatically different set of conditions. Hyper - accountability and intense pressure to change the status quo is being spurred by seismic social, societal, and economic trends. As stated by former Maine Governor, Angus King: Suddenly, and without much warning, the United States finds itself in the predicament of the lion and the gazelle. Instead of the easy grazing of the past sixty years or so, now running is not optional but imperative. Economic competition is global, focused, and unrelenting; there is no such thing as a ‘safe’ job. Whatever it was that formed the basis of your state’s economy 50, 25 or even 10 years ago is now at risk; and whatever it is that is coming next is hard to see or define, let alone prepare for.
(Project Red, 2010)