Sunday's NYT had a huge article on the use of technology in schools. It focuses on one school district that has recently adopted lots of technology and has SMARTBoards in every classroom. The main point of the article as I understand it is that Technology is not raising test scores....
DUH.... Technology will NEVER raise test scores. What is amazing is that test scores stay the same and in some classes they do increase, but they do NOT go down.
How can we justify NOT using technology in this day and age!!! We are doing our children a disservice if we do not help them to think in ways that technology allows you to think. Technology is SO prevalent in EVERY part of our lives. I started working with Ed Tech around 1990. At that time tech enthusiasts were saying that no matter what job kids had when they got out of school they would have to use technology. An example that is often given is that even at McDonalds and Gas stations computers are used for the cash register, inventory and so many other things. I always questioned whether the level that technology is used at these places makes any difference in how kids are taught. With or without technology in the school students can get jobs at McDonalds and Gas stations, but that is where they will stay.
The kids who know how to use technology will actually become the managers and Franchisers of McDonalds and Gas stations. However, that is NOT the goal of American Public Education. Don't we want kids to move beyond even that? Don't we want them to be creative thinkers and problem solvers?
Almost all kids now know how to do Facebook, download music and videos, and play games with various devices. But here are a few things that most students do NOT have a handle on that schools could make a big difference in. Schools could teach:
- when to use technology and when a different media is better and how to decide
- reading in different ways. Reading on the computer is really a different skill than reading text. Schools could help with that.
- Learning both to FOCUS and to multi-task (by that I really mean doing several things in very quick succession) Many students going to college today are good at multitasking, but have little or NO idea how to focus and slowly think things through.
- Real research skills using computers-what resources are out there, how to find them, how to cite them rather than just using someone else's work.
- How to communicate ideas online (by hyperlinking, in 140 characters, through pictures, video and music)
- and many other things
It is irresponsible for teachers today to say that they are great teachers if they are not using technology in thoughtful ways in their classrooms.