Which technology? Used how?

Does technology improve schools? That’s asking the wrong question, writes Jonathan Schorr of NewSchools Venture Fund in response to last week’s New York Times story, In Classroom of Future, Stagnant Scores. What kind of technology? Used how?

. . . as a nation, we have spent billions of dollars on technology that has reinforced, rather than transforming, traditional models of schooling. But taking the average of thousands of computer labs where kids learn to type their essays in Microsoft Word is very different from declaring the “classroom of the future” a failed experiment. It tells us as little as the average Yelp score of all the restaurants in town.

As a guide to the future, the better question is, are there models that make innovative use of technology and offer transformative potential? The answer is an emphatic yes . . .

“Bolting technology solutions on today’s existing education system is a bad strategy for improving student learning,” writes Michael Horn on Education Next.

The United States has wasted well over $60 billion “cramming” technology in schools in this way to little effect over the past couple decades—and predictably so, according to our research. That some schools continue to do this is unfortunate—particularly in tough budget times—and is worth reporting.

. . . Technology has the potential to transform the education system—not by using technology for technology’s sake through PowerPoint or multimedia at the expense of math and reading or something like that—but instead as a vehicle to individualize learning for students working to master such things as math and reading, thereby creating a student-centric system as opposed to today’s lockstep and monolithic one.

Upgrading technology first and asking questions later about how it will help students learn is foolish, adds Horn. And common.

Online learning can make a huge difference, argues Tom Vander Ark, who’s a big fan of blended learning and personlized online learning.

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