EdTech Policy – Drinking the Kool-aid?

Every student should have an iPad with textbooks in iBook form! Oh, really….?
(See more on iPads and eTexts in this blog in: Apple iBooks for eTextBooks- getting there?

In Michael Hiltzik’s recent piece in the L.A. Times, Who really benefits from putting high-tech gadgets in classrooms?, an important question is raised (the Times answers this question for us in the HTML page title of the Web version of the article: “Hyping classroom technology helps tech firms, not students”). I totally agree and disagree at the same time. Let me ‘splain.

I agree in that much of what tech firms are trying to sell to our schools is not going to help much (as it is designed to fit into the defunct mode of education we retain where school is walled off from the real world, in which the few “good” schools strive for relevant when we should be striving for real). Yes, much of what they are pushing is out of self-interest, and our major investment at this time should be to create well-designed learning with highly skilled and capable teachers (I prefer “learning coach”, but that is another post…).

However!

…..Learning with technology is now as crucial as learning with books was when they first came on the scene: what we can do with technology is much more powerful that what we can do without it.

No, tech does not equate to better learning of traditional content, and pedagogy and skilled teachers are much more important. However, tech does equate to getting experience using tech to do things better and faster, and allows for the learning and practice of skills you cannot get without using tech (think mega collaboration across time and space; gathering, processing, and communicating information in ways that you cannot do without tech–all skills that are very important in today’s world. But…and it’s a big but….you do not get those skills just having the tech in hand (or do you?…See work by Sugat Mitra). Optimal learning and skill development require (and maybe even more so) highly skilled and creative teachers and pedagogy–to the point that teachers are not teachers any more but simply more skilled learners guiding the younger ones through the learning process. Will eTexts (insert keyword for SEO: iPads) help with those skills, and how we learn the content? If the eTexts integrate tools that facilitate social learning, sharing, content creation (by students), reflection, etc. Not there yet, IMHO…..

Stepping off soapbox now….

5 thoughts on “EdTech Policy – Drinking the Kool-aid?

  1. The digital divide will actually increase IMO so long as students are handed gadgets that, while they may be working hard on graphics, still provide a passive textbook experience. I see kids looking for motion, interaction and video but real reading? Too distracting. Print is still beautiful and immediate.

    What is amazing is the access to great teachers and thinkers or simply other communities. But there is a time to get away from the screen. Teachers may be surprised that less is more. Apple has always wanted to corner publishing. Let’s see what happens…those deals do not get made in schools.

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  2. I concur with one reservation: Don’t forget the need build in programs (non-computer) to mitigate the epidemic of Nature Deficit Disorder which is a main contributor to most all our psychological, social, economic and environmental problems and threatens to only get worse with each new iPad and app in school and out.

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  3. Pingback: eTextBook Review: MBS Direct Digital | Edunautics

  4. Perhaps a good start would be to do away with the word “technology” with its 80’s connotation with computer labs and learning basic. Let’s talk of ICT instead with the focus on the C! That changes the paradigm tone that is more palatable and one that fits with what students are doing. Let’s help them do it more and better and faster and more effectively!

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  5. @Anne I love that you found my blog and are helping me refine my thinking and terminology everywhere, from Qatar to Facebook. Heartfelt thanks!

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