Technology is a helpful tool, but it won’t provide that sense of stability. It’s a cold machine. School districts push technology over teachers. They don’t stop to think about what it will mean to children and their development.
the idea that instruction should be disrupted using technology is putting students and the country at risk. It destroys the public school curriculum that has managed to educate the masses for decades.
Early childhood teachers express concern that tech is invading preschool education. We know that free play is the heart of learning.
But programs, like Waterford Early Learning, advertise online instruction including assessment for K-2. Their Upstart program advertises, At-home, online kindergarten readiness program that gives 4- and 5-year-old children early reading, math, and science lessons.
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examples of how technology may make the process a bit more efficient or less dreary but does nothing to challenge the outdated pedagogy.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.
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.
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.
the Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education – CASTLE
If a school’s reputation and pride are built on decades or centuries of “this is how we’ve always done things here,” resistance from staff, parents, and alumni to significant changes may be fierce. In such institutions, heads of school may have to steer carefully between deeply ingrained habits and the need to modernize the information tools with which students and faculty work
Too often, when navigating faculty or parental resistance, school leaders and technology staff make reassurances that things will not have to change much in the classroom or that slow baby steps are OK. Unfortunately, this results in a different problem, which is that schools have now invested significant money, time, and energy into digital technologies but are using them sparingly and seeing little impact. In such schools, replicative uses of technology are quite common, but transformative uses that leverage the unique affordances of technology are quite rare.
many schools fail to proceed further because they don’t have a collective vision of what more transformative uses of technology might look like, nor do they have a shared understanding of and commitment to what it will take to get to such a place. As a result, faculty instruction and the learning experiences of students change little or not at all.
These schools have taken the time to involve all stakeholders—including students—in substantive conversations about what digital tools will allow them to do differently compared with previous analog practices. Their visions promote the potential of computing devices to facilitate all of those elements we now think of as essential 21st-century capacities: confidence, curiosity, enthusiasm, passion, critical thinking, problem-solving, and self-direction. Technology doesn’t simply support traditional teaching—it transforms it for deeper thinking and gives students more agency over their own learning.
Another prevalent issue preventing technology change in schools is fear—fear of change, of the unknown, of letting go of what we know best, of being learners again. But it’s also a fear of letting kids have wide access to the Internet with the possibility of cyberbullying, access to inappropriate material, and exposure to online predators or even excessive advertising. Fears, of course, need to be surfaced and addressed.
The fear drives some schools to ban cellphones, disallow students and faculty from using Facebook, and lock down Internet filters so tightly that useful websites are inaccessible. They prohibit the use of Twitter and YouTube, and they block blogs. Some educators see these types of responses as principled stands against the shortcomings and hassles of digital technologies. Others see them as rejections of the dehumanization of the education process by soulless machines. Often, however, it’s just schools clinging to the past and elevating what is comfortable or familiar over the potential of technology to help them better deliver on their school missions.
Heads of school don’t have to be skilled users themselves to be effective technology leaders, but they do have to exercise appropriate oversight and convey the message—repeatedly—that frequent, meaningful technology use in school is both important and expected. Nostalgia aside, there is no foreseeable future in which the primacy of printed text is not superseded by electronic text and multimedia. When nearly all information is digital or online, multi-modal and multimedia, accessed by mobile devices that fit in our pockets, the question should not be whether schools prepare students for a digital learning landscape, but rather how.
Many educators aren’t necessarily afraid of technology, but they are so accustomed to heavily teacher-directed classrooms that they are leery about giving up control—and can’t see the value in doing so.
Although most of us recognize that mobile computers connected to the Internet may be the most powerful learning devices yet invented—and that youth are learning in powerful ways at home with these technologies—allowing students to have greater autonomy and ownership of the learning process can still seem daunting and questionable.
The “beyond” is particularly important. When we give students some voice in and choice about what and how they learn, we honor basic human needs for autonomy, we enhance students’ interest and engagement, and we truly actualize our missions of preparing lifelong learners.
The goal of instructional transformation is to empower students, not to disempower teachers. While instructor unfamiliarity with digital technologies, inquiry- or problem-based teaching techniques, or deeper learning strategies may result in some initial discomfort, these challenges can be overcome with robust support.
A few workshops here and there rarely result in large-scale changes in implementation.
teacher-driven “unconferences” or “edcamps,” at which educators propose and facilitate discussion topics, can be powerful mechanisms for fostering professional dialogue and learning. Similarly, some schools offer voluntary “Tech Tuesdays” or “appy hours” to foster digital learning among interested faculty.
In addition to existing IT support, technology integration staff, or librarians/media specialists, some schools have student technology teams that are on call for assistance when needed.
A few middle schools and high schools go even further and assign teachers their own individual student technology mentors. These student-teacher pairings last all school year and comprise the first line of support for educators’ technology questions.
As teachers, heads of school, counselors, coaches, and librarians, we all now have the ability to participate in ongoing, virtual, global communities of practice.
Whether formal or informal, the focus of technology-related professional learning should be on student learning, not on the tools or devices. Independent school educators should always ask, “Technology for the purpose of what?” when considering the inclusion of digital technologies into learning activities. Technology never should be implemented just for technology’s sake.
1. Computers and internet access alone don’t boost learning
Handing out laptops, providing high-speed internet access or buying most other kinds of hardware doesn’t on its own boost academic outcomes. The research shows that student achievement doesn’t rise when kids are using computers more, and it sometimes decreases.
2. Some math software shows promise
math programs such as SimCalc and ASSISTments. One popular program, DreamBox, showed small gains for students, as well. Only one piece of software that taught reading, Intelligent Tutoring for the Structure Strategy (ITSS), showed promise, suggesting that it is possible to create good educational software outside of math, but it’s a lot harder.
One commonality of the software that seems to work is that it somehow “personalizes” instruction. Sometimes students start with a pre-test so the computer can determine what they don’t know and then sends each student the right lessons, or a series of worksheet problems, to help fill in the gaps. Other times, the computer ascertains a student’s gaps as he works through problems and makes mistakes, giving personalized feedback. Teachers also get data reports to help pinpoint where students are struggling.
3. Cheap can be effective
a study in San Francisco where texts reminded mothers to read to their preschoolers. That boosted children’s literacy scores.
Active learning techniques have been shown to improve the classroom experience, leading to higher student success rates and greater student engagement.
As an increasing number of higher education faculty apply the flipped classroom model to their courses, they’re discovering that although the idea of a flip is straightforward, the model is easy to get wrong.
The flipped model puts greater responsibility for learning on the students while providing them with more room to experiment in the classroom. This leads to a shift in priorities, allowing classroom time to move from merely covering material to working toward mastery of it.
As a result of this presentation, you gain a new perspective on what it means to flip the classroom, leading to revitalized teaching. This seminar not only explores concrete strategies for engaging students in the flipped classroom, but it also delves into why technology-free approaches are important. You will better understand how to do the following:
Organize student-led activities to encourage greater communication in the classroom
Create a dynamic session devoted to learning through hands-on work
Integrate unplugged methods of student engagement into flipped and active classroom learning environments
Lean on tools such as sticky notes, flip charts, whiteboards, and dice to inspire new ways of thinking
The flipped classroom model challenges instructors to create learning experiences in which students have the freedom to apply, analyze, and evaluate course content during class time.
The question is: How do you continue finding innovative teaching strategies and tools to engage students in this way?
Although some creativity is required to plan a flip, the process doesn’t have to be intimidating. This seminar demonstrates a number of simple strategies that motivate students to interact with the material and engage with one another. You will learn the following:
Discover a range of “unplugged” teaching strategies used to engage students
Learn to identify opportunities for unplugging devices and creating a tech-free learning experience in the classroom
Master simple ways to integrate unplugged flipped methods into your course
Understand the benefits to including unplugged teaching and learning strategies in flipped course design
Developing new strategies and ideas for the flipped classroom
Increasing student engagement with unplugged methods
Integrating unplugged methods into flipped and active learning classrooms
Using everyday tools to inspire higher-level thinking
Expanding the definition of the flipped classroom
This seminar is intended for faculty and instructors interested in a role change in the classroom. The flipped learning environment requires teachers to give up their front-of-class position in favor of a more collaborative and cooperative contribution to the teaching process. Are you ready to make a change?
“Teachers and administrators continue to see the No. 1 benefit of any digital tool, content or resource as enhancing student engagement. While that is interesting, it has limited value. Lots of thing can engage kids — that does not necessarily point to an academic benefit or value proposition on its own. So, I always acknowledge the engagement benefit but look deeper at other benefits that can shed new insights into how the teachers are leveraging these powerful devices to transform education — or to change the trajectory of the learning process for their students.
among the more interesting or meaningful benefits were:
Improvement of communications between stakeholders, such as the ability for students to ask question via e-mail. “Stronger communications between students and teachers is a huge benefit
Extending learning beyond regular school hours: “Teachers giving that high marks as a real or perceived benefit means that they are also looking for ways to extend learning time beyond the school day but realize that kids need a device to make that a reality.”
Student ownership of the learning process: “Students who are using mobile devices in class are empowered/enabled to be in the driver’s seat of their own learning
The majority of the participants were female. All of the participants were junior and senior students enrolled in elementary teacher education programs. Specifically, this study compared pre-service teachers’ self-efficacy, outcome expectations, intentions (internal factors) and perceived school climate (external factor) for technology integration in education in these countries.
Unlike Turkey and the US, self-efficacy predicted technology integration intention to a smaller degree than school climate in the Spanish sample. Interestingly, outcome expectations scores did not make a statistically significant contribution to predicting pre-service teachers’ intention to use technology in the US sample.