Monday, September 18, 2006

Edison's Prediction Revisited-revisited

HI All,

This article in Converge was written to address ed tech critics who point out budgetary concerns and lack of research to support tech's role in raising test scores.

Let me start out by saying I like anyone who sticks their neck out there. We need more of this because it encourages conversation, and conversation results in learning and sometimes change.

First point... "Corporate leaders don't fuss and worry about technology spending the way education critics do". In my experience they do support the purchase of tools that will make their employees more effieicent, but on the other hand, if the expense does not make a measureable difference in achieving their goals they will drop it like a hot rock. The fact is that the blackberry, lap top and videoconferencing make, or saves them, money. Our bottom line is learning. Can we always say the same? Often yes...then keep funding it. If not, let it go and apply the money to reducing class sizes.

Next..."To suggest, as some education critics do, that we eliminate things that foster both communication and creativity in the classroom is ridiculous. But that is exactly what they are promulgating when suggesting technology should be limited in the classroom." That is too simplistic and creates a false dichotomy. I'm not sure if I've ever "promulgated" anything but there may be other issues to consider when one looks at tech use being limited by a school. It's important but isn't the only thing in increasingly shrinking school budgets. I, dare say, it isn't the always the evil critics trying to limit the creativity and communication of the classroom environment.

Next..."If there is no benefit in using pen and paper in the world that we work in, why should we demand our students stay in the pen and paper world?" I agree with you on this. Digital tools are the way I am reacting to this article. My own kids are immersed in them. The question I have is, when you consider the cost of computers for a writing class relative to traditional pen/paper journaling etc. Is it worth it? You can't dismiss the costs of training, hardware, software, infrastructure etc. associated with their use. Is my son becoming a MUCH better writer because of these tools? If so, we need them. If not....

You got me on the sports thing. I see their value but those expenditures are ridiculous. I would apply a similar argument there. Is it really worth that much? The only thing I can say though is that tax payers are funding this. If they want "friday night lights" because it is part of their culture, I guess they will continue to support it. I'm with you on that one.

It is also my experience that tech is enthusiastically embraced by students. They love it.

I am offended. I will not accept your attack on "old school" teachers. Are you kidding me? Most of these veteran educators realize that they have no access to a lab on a regular basis because it is being hogged by a handful of over-zealous teachers. They also know that they produce results without tech and wonder why it is being forced on them. They also aren't being offered respectful (i.e old school???) staff development that addresses learning and not the software. Lastly, the often unreliable computers are a crap shoot when it comes to actually producing work. I know that you are writing this article from some fantasy school setting but enter a random public school some day and check out their learning lab. That's old school.

The closing is emotional but weak on facts. It states..."Perhaps that is ultimately the main complaint naysayers have against using technology in our schools...they don't want to change, even for the benefit of students." Talk about an ad hominem attack. This is blatantly untrue and doesn't serve your argument well. Of course critics care about kids. They may care about the waste associated with some applications of ed tech. You don't have to have computers to have a constructivist curriculum. Granted, there are amazing ways to use computers in support of that style of teaching but to suggest that it can only take place if evil luddites will embrace ed tech is wrong.

Have at me. You know you want to. Let's keep the conversation going.

Jim :-)

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