Speaking of Texas, a couple of weeks ago the Texas Education Agency announced a major reorganization that included the elimination of its educational technology division. The reason stated for the drastic measures is, of course, the economic problems being faced by state and local governments coast-to-coast. However, I think this decision also says a lot at the state of instructional technology in this country.
Just a few years ago, federal and state agencies, local school systems, and corporations were falling all over themselves to put technology in the classroom. What technology? It really didn’t matter as long as it was "high" and looked really cool. Often missing in the rush to be the highest tech around was an instructionally sound plan for using the hardware and software, plus the money and time to train teachers to make best use of it. As a result schools bought lots of equipment, connected everything to the Internet, starting using PowerPoint to do everything but clean the bathrooms and, for the most part, never figured out how to use all of it to improve teaching and learning.
Maybe more places should follow Texas’ lead and drop their "technology departments" and "technology plans". Maybe it’s time to look at instructional technology with a more critical eye. Instead of making computers the starting point, begin by asking serious questions about what we want students to know and be able to do. And then see how computers can make teaching and learning that better. I think it was David Thornburg who said "We made the mistake of wiring our classrooms when we should have first wired our teachers." Maybe it’s time to step back and do a little rewiring.