Following up on my previous rant about the fear of smartphones in the hands of students, Jim Knight, a British education blogger and former UK minister of state for schools, takes pretty much the opposite view to that being promoted by Jay Mathews.
Knight observes that we teach kids “using the tools that are part of everyday life. Some tools can be dangerous and adults learn to teach children about how to use the tools safely.”
Today we call computers and smartphones “technology” and most people use them as indespensible, everyday tools. So, “[i]t seems logical that we should teach children how to use the tools of technology and how to use them safely.”
It’s hard to argue with his logic, although a recent international study on the use of devices in schools seems to do just that.
However, Knight goes on to make several great points about why that study, not to mention Mathews’ anecdotal-based opposition to student devices, are considering the wrong factors in this discussion.
The long-standing research says that technology can significantly improve education outcomes if pedagogy is changed so that the tools are used effectively. Teachers need training in new technology, and its strategic implementation needs to be well led at a school level.
Having discovered that the OECD report simply confirmed what we already knew — that just putting new technology in classrooms is useless without good CPD [continuing professional development] and good leadership — I could relax and enjoy my breakfast. [emphasis is mine]
Exactly. We need to change classroom practice, do a better job with teacher training, and find better school leadership if any of this technology is going to make a different. I would add that our classic curriculum also needs some major revisions.
Anyway, his final statement wonderfully summarizes what should be our approach to using technology in schools:
We shouldn’t be scared of the future. We must change and prepare our children for it.
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