Posts Tagged ‘Alfie Kohn’

educational technology

The Overselling of Education Technology

By Alfie Kohn     Mar 16, 2016

https://www.edsurge.com/news/2016-03-16-the-overselling-of-education-technology

my response to ed tech is “It depends.”

Some people seem to be drawn to technology for its own sake—because it’s cool.

Other people, particularly politicians, defend technology on the grounds that it will keep our students “competitive in the global economy.”

But the rationale that I find most disturbing—despite, or perhaps because of, the fact that it’s rarely made explicit—is the idea that technology will increase our efficiency…at teaching the same way that children have been taught for a very long time. Perhaps it hasn’t escaped your notice that ed tech is passionately embraced by very traditional schools: Their institutional pulse quickens over whatever is cutting-edge: instruction that’s blended, flipped, digitally personalized.

We can’t answer the question “Is tech useful in schools?” until we’ve grappled with a deeper question: “What kinds of learning should be taking place in those schools?”

Tarting up a lecture with a SmartBoard, loading a textbook on an iPad, looking up facts online, rehearsing skills with an “adaptive learning system,” writing answers to the teacher’s (or workbook’s) questions and uploading them to Google Docs—these are examples of how technology may make the process a bit more efficient or less dreary but does nothing to challenge the outdated pedagogy. To the contrary: These are shiny things that distract us from rethinking our approach to learning and reassure us that we’re already being innovative.

putting grades online (thereby increasing their salience and their damaging effects), using computers to administer tests and score essays, and setting up “embedded” assessment that’s marketed as “competency-based.” (If your instinct is to ask “What sort of competency? Isn’t that just warmed-over behaviorism?”

But as I argued not long ago, we shouldn’t confuse personalized learning with personal learning. The first involves adjusting the difficulty level of prefabricated skills-based exercises based on students’ test scores, and it requires the purchase of software. The second involves working with each student to create projects of intellectual discovery that reflect his or her unique needs and interests, and it requires the presence of a caring teacher who knows each child well.a recent review found that studies of tech-based personalized instruction “show mixed results ranging from modest impacts to no impact” – despite the fact that it’s remarkably expensive.

 an article in Education Week, “a host of national and regional surveys suggest that teachers are far more likely to use tech to make their own jobs easier and to supplement traditional instructional strategies than to put students in control of their own learning.”

OECD reportednegative outcomes when students spent a lot of time using computers, while Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) concluded that online charter schools were basically a disaster.

Larry Cuban, Sherry Turkle, Gary Stager, and Will Richardson.

Emily Talmage points out, uncannily aligned with the wish list of the Digital Learning Council, a group consisting largely of conservative advocacy groups and foundations, and corporations with a financial interest in promoting ed tech.

++++++++++++
more on educational technology in this IMS blog
http://blog.stcloudstate.edu/ims?s=educational+technology

Overselling of Education Technology

The Overselling of Education Technology

By Alfie Kohn     Mar 16, 2016

https://www.edsurge.com/news/2016-03-16-the-overselling-of-education-technology

Basically, my response to ed tech is “It depends.” And one key consideration on which it depends is the reason given for supporting it.

ads in education periodicals, booths at conferences, and advocacy organizations are selling not only specific kinds of software but the whole idea that ed tech is de rigueur for any school that doesn’t want to risk being tagged as “twentieth century.”

Other people, particularly politicians, defend technology on the grounds that it will keep our students “competitive in the global economy.” This catch-all justification has been invoked to support other dubious policies, including highly prescriptive, one-size-fits-all national curriculum standards. It’s based on two premises: that decisions about children’s learning should be driven by economic considerations, and that people in other countries should be seen primarily as rivals to be defeated.

But the rationale that I find most disturbing—despite, or perhaps because of, the fact that it’s rarely made explicit—is the idea that technology will increase our efficiency…at teaching the same way that children have been taught for a very long time.

a deeper question: “What kinds of learning should be taking place in those schools?” If we favor an approach by which students actively construct meaning, an interactive process that involves a deep understanding of ideas and emerges from the interests and questions of the learners themselves, well, then we’d be open to the kinds of technology that truly support this kind of inquiry. Show me something that helps kids create, design, produce, construct—and I’m on board. Show me something that helps them make things collaboratively (rather than just on their own), and I’m even more interested—although it’s important to keep in mind that meaningful learning never requires technology, so even here we should object whenever we’re told that software (or a device with a screen) is essential.

more worrisome are the variants of ed tech that deal with grades and tests, making them even more destructive than they already are: putting grades online (thereby increasing their salience and their damaging effects), using computers to administer tests and score essays, and setting up “embedded” assessment that’s marketed as “competency-based.”

we shouldn’t confuse personalized learning with personal learning. The first involves adjusting the difficulty level of prefabricated skills-based exercises based on students’ test scores, and it requires the purchase of software. The second involves working with each student to create projects of intellectual discovery that reflect his or her unique needs and interests, and it requires the presence of a caring teacher who knows each child well.

a recent review found that studies of tech-based personalized instruction “show mixed results ranging from modest impacts to no impact” – despite the fact that it’s remarkably expensive. In fact, ed tech of various kinds has made headlines lately for reasons that can’t be welcome to its proponents. According to an article in Education Week, “a host of national and regional surveys suggest that teachers are far more likely to use tech to make their own jobs easier and to supplement traditional instructional strategies than to put students in control of their own learning.” Last fall, meanwhile, OECD reportednegative outcomes when students spent a lot of time using computers, while Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes

Ed tech is increasingly making its way even into classrooms for young children. And the federal government is pushing this stuff unreservedly: Check out the U.S. Office of Education Technology’s 2016 plan recommending greater use of “embedded” assessment, which “includes ongoing gathering and sharing of data,” plus, in a development that seems inevitable in retrospect, a tech-based program to foster a “growth mindset” in children. There’s much more in that plan, too—virtually all of it, as blogger Emily Talmage points out, uncannily aligned with the wish list of the Digital Learning Council, a group consisting largely of conservative advocacy groups and foundations, and corporations with a financial interest in promoting ed tech.

++++++++++++++++
more on technology literacy in this IMS blog
http://blog.stcloudstate.edu/ims?s=technology+literacy

The death of the digital native and overselling the ed tech

The death of the digital native: four provocations from Digifest speaker, Dr Donna Lanclos

https://www.jisc.ac.uk/inform-feature/the-death-of-the-digital-native-23-feb-2016

educators need to figure out what they need to do. Are you trying to have a conversation? Are you simply trying to transmit information? Or are you, in fact, trying to have students create something?

Answer those pedagogical questions first and then – and only then – will you be able to connect people to the kinds of technologies that can do that thing.

The ‘digital native’ is a generational metaphor. It’s a linguistic metaphor. It’s a ridiculous metaphor. It’s the notion that there is a particular generation of people who are fundamentally unknowable and incomprehensible.

There are policy implications: if your university philosophy is grounded in assumptions around digital natives, education and technology, you’re presupposing you don’t have to teach the students how to use tech for their education. And, furthermore, it will never be possible to teach that faculty how to use that technology, either on their own behalf or for their students.

A very different paradigm is ‘visitor and resident‘. Instead of talking about these essentialised categories of native and immigrant, we should be talking about modes of behaviour because, in fact, some people do an awful lot of stuff with technology in some parts of their lives and then not so much in other parts.

How much of your university practice is behind closed doors?   This is traditional, of course, gatekeeping our institutions of higher education, keeping the gates in the walled campuses closed. So much of the pedagogy as well as the content of the university is locked away. That has implications not just for potential students but also from a policy perspective – if part of the problem in higher education policy is of non-university people not understanding the work of the university, being open would have really great potential to mitigate that lack of understanding.

 I would like to see our universities modelling themselves more closely on what we should be looking for in society generally: networked, open, transparent, providing the opportunity for people to create things that they wouldn’t create all by themselves.

I understand the rationale for gatekeeping, I just don’t think that there’s as much potential with a gatekept system as there is with an open one.

There are two huge problems with the notion of “student expectations”: firstly, the sense that, with the UK’s new fee model, students’ ideas of what higher education should be now weigh much more heavily in the institutions’ educational planning. Secondly, institutions in part think their role is to make their students “employable” because some politician somewhere has said the university is there to get them jobs.

Students coming into higher education don’t know much about what higher education can be. So if we allow student expectations to set the standard for what we should be doing, we create an amazingly low bar.

The point of any educational system is not to provide citizens with jobs. That’s the role of the economy.

Universities are not vocational

Institutions can approach educational technology in two very different ways. They can have a learning technology division that is basically in charge of acquiring and maintaining educational technology. Or they can provide spaces to develop pedagogy and then think about the role of technology within that pedagogy.