Monday, November 14, 2011

To go digital, or not to go...

...that is the question I'm trying to answer in this article on technology and education. And as I'm working on my rough draft for it, one article from the NY Times has proved very useful in providing one side of the argument.

The article begins by showing the stakes involved in this issue, and they're higher than you might think. To be precise, the stakes are estimated at about $2.2 billion a year. That's right. Billion. That's roughly how much money is spent yearly on technology in the classroom--money that could be going towards plenty of other useful purposes within schools. And it's no secret that schools are running on dreadfully and increasingly lower budgets.

But beyond the stakes, this article shows there are numerous issues with running so quickly to embrace technology in the classroom. So many schools and teachers advocate technology with blanket statements, such as "Technology helps engage students more." Or, "It helps them make connections." Or, "Students get so excited when they get to use technology." This article from the NY Times (titled "Inflating the Software Report Card," by the way) shows the problems with such beliefs, using an abundance of statistics for support. While claims about the attractions of technology may be true, they fail to answer a very basic, yet crucial question: is our focus on the right place? Is technology helping our students learn?

Without an answer to that question (and an affirmative one, at that), our race to see who can include more technology in the classroom may not be a race we really want to win. 

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