A Little EdTech Wishful Thinking

In a post reprinted in the Washington Post’s Answer Sheet blog, Larry Ferlazzo offers Eight education predictions (and some wishful thinking) for 2016. Number seven deals with educational technology, and I think this may be some of his “wishful thinking”.

The recent OECD report pointing out the lack of success educational technology has had in improving student learning, and the growing recognition among researchers and educators that its use is not narrowing the “achievement” (or “opportunity”) gap, will result in the most serious effort yet to dramatically reassess how tech is being applied in our schools around the country. Top-down unilateral decisions will begin to give way to the “radical” idea of listening to teachers’ opinions and acting on them.

We’ve had years, if not a couple of decades, of research questioning the effectiveness of technology in schools. There’s no reason to think that the OECD report released in September (which most school & district administrators have probably not read completely anyway) will alter the current top-down decision-making process used in most districts, for pretty much everything. I certainly doubt it will give way to “listening to teachers’ opinions and acting on them”.

Major instructional technology purchasing decisions, such as in the 1-1 computing program slowly lumbering forward in Fairfax County schools (aka the overly-large school district, and my former employer), are made by administrators and technical people. Teachers might be included in “focus groups” or other advisory committees but it’s rare that anyone who actually works with students (or the students themselves) will have any substantial influence over what tech is approved and purchased for classroom use.

And that’s not about to change in 2016.