Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Same old arguments

In twenty years of working with technology in schools, the same arguments always appear in posts about computers in school.  I was following this thread on a recent PBS article and sure enough, there were several posts which:
  • Equated technology with bad teaching
  • Described computers as a luxury and complained about the expense
  • Waxed nostalgic about drill and practice in the old days, and how much more was learned back then (by the 30% of people who completed high school.)
Some obvious points:
K-12 is the last industry which makes a big deal out of using technology.  Every other industry has switched to using it.  The world uses technology to do real work today, so of course we need it to teach those things.

$250 per year per student is not much money compared to the $12,000 or so we spend on each student every year.  Kids will buy their own computers soon.  Most already do.

Learning does require practice and hard work, and wherever this is not present, learning suffers.  (It's an old problem.  Unfortunately, you can do bad teaching with or without a computer.)

Education is lighting a fire, not filling a bucket.  Many old-fashioned school practices actually taught kids to hate learning (writing as a punishment, for instance.) School does not have to be like it was.

Printed textbooks will not survive this economy.  E-Reader copies can be updated much more cheaply, contain video, etc.  E-Readers cost no more than one or two textbooks now, and can hold thousands of books.  You can read them in daylight and they don't make your eyes sore. There will always be wonderful books, including paper ones, but for traditional classroom textbooks, It's over.  People complain about filtering the Internet. There is no more egregious filter than a history textbook approved in Texas and California.

Technology does not drive good teaching; it is simply necessary, as a practical matter, for good teaching in today's world for most subjects. 


1 comment:

peterhag said...

Makley you bring forward many good points and arguments. There have been many articles written that bash the use of technology in the classroom. You bring forward the good point that it is up to the instructor to use the technology in an advantageous manner. I like how you take away focus from the impact of technology. Instead, you focus on the way technology should be used.
Most articles I have read that are against technology cite a lack of improvement in test scores. You discuss how technology really shouldn’t be blamed for the lack of increase. It is necessary for technology to be implemented in classrooms. More technology needs to be implemented because of the increase of technology in the job sectors. Therefore, it really is not a question of should technology be used in schools. The question is what is the most advantageous way to use technology in classrooms?
I believe that more extensive research should be taken to study the best cognitive approach for students using technology in school. Less action should be taken on whether technology should be allowed or not. Instead, the use of technology should be accepted. Then we can move on and find the best ways to use technology in schools. This will help teachers improve their methods for teaching. If this were to happen I would bet that there would be an increase in test scores.
I think you touched on this point. I am writing a research paper for school and your post has helped me reach my conclusion about the implementation of technology in school.