In Classroom of the Future, Stagnant Scores, a Sept. 4 New York Times story, has set off a debate on the role of technology in teaching.
“Unimaginative uses of technology” won’t help kids learn, responds John Merrow of Learning Matters.
One teacher gave a true-false quiz but handed out wireless clickers for students to record their answers. In other classes, kids were playing a math game (“Alien Addition”) and an interactive spelling game, while other students were videotaping a skit that they could as easily have simply performed for the class.
In the so-called “classroom of the future,” technology was used to entertain or deliver information more efficiently, Merrow complains. Students weren’t encouraged to follow their own interests or connect with others outside the classroom.
Here’s a Learning Matters report that asks on a digital classroom in North Carolina.
Dangerously Irrelevant summarizes the pushback against the Times piece, concluding:
We have schools and classrooms that are still doing what they’ve always done, but with some additional infrequent and marginal uses of new learning tools. We have educators who don’t really know how to use the tools very well and who also have little access to those tools, reliable IT support, and/or regular integration assistance. For some reason we expect changes in certain learning outcomes to occur anyway, despite these environmental factors and despite the fact that those outcomes may not be what the schools were striving for in the first place. And, if we don’t see those outcomes, we’re going to claim it’s the fault of the technologies themselves rather than human and system factors and then we’re going to claim that traditional analog learning environments are just fine in a digital, global world.
So far, computer-aided instruction hasn’t improved reading or math performance, writes Robert Slavin on Ed Week‘s new Sputnik blog. Yet he believes “outstanding, sustainable improvements in daily teaching are going to depend on the extraordinary capabilities of technology.”