PBS: Teachers like technology

Teachers value educational technology, according to a survey by PBS LearningMedia released for Digital Learning Day. Three-quarters of teachers surveyed said technology helps them expand on content, motivate students and respond to different learning styles.

Nearly half (48%) of teachers surveyed reported using technology for online lesson plans, and just under half use technology to give students access to web-based educational games or activities (45%). Additionally, teachers use online video, images and articles (43%). Sixty-five percent of teachers reported that technology allows them to demonstrate something they cannot show in any other way.

Ninety percent of teachers surveyed have access to at least one PC or laptop for their classrooms; 59 percent use an interactive whiteboard. Access to a tablet or e-reader is growing rapidly, from 20 percent to 35 percent of teachers in a year.

One-per-child laptops flop in Peru

Five years ago Peru partnered with One Laptop Per Child to give low-cost laptops to 800,000 public school students, writes Innosight’s Michael Horn. Digital technology was supposed to improve learning and fight poverty. The $200 million initiative “has largely been a flop.”

In an eSchool News story, one person “wonders if it may have even widened the gaps between rich and poor students in the country,” Horn notes.

Ouch.

Yet this was entirely predictable ahead of time.

. . . Technology by itself does not transform anything in any sector. What tends to matter far more is the model in which the technology is used.

The One Laptop Per Child initiative in particular gathered significant publicity and hype for its admirable goals, but people implementing it in many countries appeared not to have thought through the professional development teachers would need or, even more importantly, a redesign of the schooling model itself to leverage the considerable benefits that digital learning can deliver.

The U.S. spent well over $60 billion to equip classrooms with computers with little to show for it, Horn writes.  A potentially disruptive technology has been used to sustain the existing education model, not to transform it.

There is a long history of schools using technologies to, in effect, sustain the chalkboard and prop up the 20th-century factory model classroom with the teacher in front of 20 to 30 students of the same age. The recent hype over electronic white boards has been only the latest incarnation of this.

“Districts spending wildly on iPads and other devices should take note” of technology’s limits, concludes Horn, co-author of Disrupting Class

 

With 25 minutes and a whiteboard …

Gregory Euclide whiteboard artwork

© Gregory Euclide

 

Teacher Gregory Euclide started drawing on his whiteboard to relieve stress during his 25-minute lunch break at a Minneapolis-area high school.

Euclide’s paintings are made from things lying around the classroom, such as whiteboard erasers, paper towels, brushes, spray bottles and Japanese Sumi ink, which is made from soot, water and glue.

Students were distressed when he wiped out the artwork, so he decided to release a series called “Laid Down & Wiped Away” chronicling his classroom whiteboard experiments. Here’s Euclide’s Flat Works 2012.