When I was a kid, I used to love walking into the computer lab for computer class. We used to play Carmen San Diego and Oregon Trail. It was neat to learn that I could do an activity using technology. We had Apple IIe computers and if you were lucky you had a Mac. In college it was more of the same except I wanted to see my colleges computer labs have the latest and greatest hardware and web development software like the Adobe (then macromedia suite). I was so disappointed that they only upgraded their computer every 4+ years. That’s crazy I thought. Computers are done in 2 years. Then again public education has always been underfunded so it was not really surprising.
Now in todays climate with current budgets, I am guessing computers will be upgraded every 6 or so years. Obviously its not even worth having a computer lab is you cannot keep it up. So my solution:
LETS GET RID OF COMPUTER LABS IN ALL K-16 PUBLIC SCHOOLS. Yep you heard me right. Let’s get rid of them. Now I am not saying lets get rid of computer education. Quite the contrary, I just have another solution. Computer education is probably one of the best skills students of all ages can have. For instance, when I started working in the corporate sector after I completed my masters degree, the company I worked for expected me to fully understand MS Powerpoint, word, excel, and visio. What I didnt expect was that they also expected me to make graphics and use a database among other things and this was for a general business job. It was not a computer oriented job. So yea, those computer skills were extremely helpful. Fortunately for me, I am a tech guy, so it was easy to do all of those tasks.
Anyway, so what is my suggestion:
Get rid of computer labs and create a cloud based network. Thus students would be required to all have their own computers (mac or pc would not matter). They would come into a regular classroom and log in to the cloud network where all of their software and files would be. That way the school would just need to keep up the cloud and keep up the software updates – most of which they do now. They would no longer be required to use their funds for computers that are quickly outdated and would not need to waste the computer technicians time fixing half of the labs computers each day because students put viruses or whatever on them. Now students and parents would be responsible for their own computers. This would also be a huge advantage for the student. Now they would not need to worry about working on a computer, forget to save the file, only to find it deleted when they come back the next day. I cannot tell you how many students lose their projects because they are working on a school computer. Anyway, I believe this is where we are headed and it is a solution to better our labs and save schools money that they already do not have. And if for some reason US schools do get properly funded as they are in many nations across world, I would still call for this change.