What we DO know is that students using technology do NOT do substantially better OR worse on standardized tests
(there are research findings on both sides of this issue which prove that technolgy is effective in raising test scores and also that it is not).
This has led many to say that standardized testing is flawed and does not measure what the students are really learning. I totally believe this is true, but it really isn't the issue. (i.e. I am a good test taker and just took the TEXET exam for a teaching credential in Texas. It measured well that I was good at taking tests, reading, and knowing what answer was expected whether I agreed with it or not, but it did not measure how I would do in the classroom relating to students and parents.)
We ALSO know these things:
- Students who use technology are more engaged.
- In classrooms where technology is used there are fewer discipline problems and students are more often on task.
- Attendence is up in classrooms with regular technology use.
- Teachers who were going to retire because of burn out stay in the classroom and are rejuvinated.
- The WHOLE world is changing because of technology
- People expect access to information 24/7
- It is difficult, if not impossible to control communication between dissidents and anyone else
- Email is being used as evidence in high level trials.
- Technology is everywhere and even low level jobs use technology to accomplish what would have been done by hand in the past.
- Academics can easily get information in .pdf format without moving from their offices.
The world is truly changing. Why should schools be the one place where these changes are not necessary? Why should it be OK for teachers not do do email or not to be literate internet users?
The reasons for using technology well in schools and for training teachers has very little to do with standardized test scores. The reasons go way beyond what happens inside a school building.
But what holds things back? Why is there a delay in using technology appropriately in schools? One thing - $$$$. Inservice training, equipment, support, expert technicians who can design network architecture and keep things up and running are expensive.
We are trying to do school on the cheap so that we can continue to spend most of our tax dollars on weapons and homeland security.
All of the above is not to say that I don't believe that Web 2.0 and the possibility of true interaction using the web will not make a difference. It is HUGELY important. But, that is not the issue. We can blogevangelize all we want and still the same percentage of teachers will adopt the change. We can keep trying to collect DATA to prove that technologies will make a difference in learning. But until we decide as a nation that our children and future generations are important investments we will NOT make any changes to school as it has been for the last 100 years.