As we gear up to start another school year, here comes yet another survey about teachers and their use of technology in the classroom.
The findings in this one range from ones that are so obvious the sponsors didn’t need to waste their money to others that have no support in the data.
An example of the later is
The teaching process is fundamentally changing as teachers move from learning how computers work to using technology to change how they teach, culminating in transforming how students learn.
From what I can gather from the report (I haven’t yet read the whole thing), a majority of the teachers believe that statement to some degree. There’s no evidence here (or much anywhere else) that the declaration as a whole is valid.
And I would love to believe this statement is true.
Education is today where business was 20 years ago — on the cusp of radically transforming the learning environment
The problem is that simply adding computers to the classroom will not “radically transform” anything about education.
Walk into most schools, especially high schools, and you will see a learning environment that is little changed from thirty years ago, much less over the four years this annual survey has been conducted.
A teacher using the web for research or to display a lesson in PowerPoint is only using technology as a replacement for books and an overhead projector. It does not mean the process of teaching and learning is “fundamentally changing”.
The report also talks about students using technology to acquire “21st century skills”, which they define as:
- Critical-thinking and problem-solving
- Creativity and innovation
- Contextual learning
- Information and media literacy
If our education system was truly organized around helping students learn those skills, that would qualify as a change of seismic proportions.
However, with or without technology, that’s not happening in the test-everything-that-moves atmosphere of most American schools.