wasting bandwidth since 1999

Tell Me Something We Don’t Know

According to the headline from a new study funded jointly by the two largest teachers’ unions, technology is not being used effectively in schools.

Well, I’m not sure we needed another high priced study to arrive at that conclusion but this little bit from the executive summary is worth repeating.

Yet, despite these significant investments of resources and time, the debate on education technology is still largely unresolved. Mounting evidence shows that technology improves efficiency among educators and increases motivation in students. However, the effect of technology on student achievement is not well documented.

That’s certainly true, but I’m not even sure we’ve documented improvements in staff efficiency and student motivation.

Anyway, moving on to the researcher’s conclusions, most of which will also be unsurprising to anyone who’s been involved in education over the past decade.

Results show that the training educators receive on using technology has been more effective for administrative tasks than for instruction and that training has been more accessible to educators in certain demographic groups.

Findings for technology access and support indicate that although schools had accumulated technology hardware for students’ use, it was not adequate in most schools to meet the demands of classroom instruction. Further, many teachers still believed that their access to instructional software and technical support was not adequate.

Both educators’ and students’ use of technology for instruction has been limited in scope and infrequent.

So, how do we make things better? The authors of this study come up with four general recommendations, all of which we’ve heard many times before.

  1. Improve technology access
  2. Increase internet access, software, and technical support
  3. Expand professional development in technology and integrate use of technology as a learning tool in classrooms
  4. Encourage union or education association support for states’ and districts’ plans to fund and provide technology

Very nice. However, once again they miss a huge piece of this puzzle.

People in the real world are making major changes in the way they gather, process, manage, and use information, largely due to the web and mobile technologies.

Schools, on the other hand, are still locked in the model where a teacher is responsible for dispensing data at a fixed rate from a standardized curriculum of compartmentalized knowledge.

Technology offers the potential to make learning far more flexible, in terms of content, student learning styles, teaching styles, location and so much more.

Until we incorporate that fact into our education systems, any increases in funding, tech support and training are not going to make much difference.

1 Comment

  1. Dave

    Those last 4 paragraphs are painfully true. I’m starting to wonder if there are roadblocks that we’re not seeing, since it seems like such an obvious, totally beneficial move for education…is it just the high cost of switching?

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