Friday, May 04, 2007

NY Times article is comical

Seeing No Progress, Some Schools Drop Laptops

One of my parents sent me an email about this article. She said I might find it interesting. I did. I have so many thoughts about it that it's difficult to know where to start. I guess I'll begin with this quote:
" is often embraced by philanthropists and political leaders as a quick fix, only to leave teachers flummoxed about how best to integrate the new gadgets into curriculums."

Flummoxed. Perhaps this is the problem. What do you expect when technology is rushed into the classroom, with little training and preparation for the teachers --it is doomed to fail from the start. Put those laptops in the hands of a tech savvy teacher though and watch them have their kids do amazing things with the devices.

Here is another quote:
"...a survey of district teachers and parents found that one-fifth of Matoaca students rarely or never used their laptops for learning."
Once again, in the hands of a capable teacher students would be doing more than their share of learning.

And if we needed any evidence that flummoxed teachers have no idea how to use the laptops, we get this unenlightened statement from a history teacher at one of the schools:
“The art of thinking is being lost,” he said. “Because people can type in a word and find a source and think that’s the be all end all.”
Obviously this teacher doesn't feel the need to teach his students how to critically and carefully evaluate these sources. If he did, then his students would be improving their thinking skills, not losing them.

This quote also brings something else to mind: in the age of Google, is it bad that we can type a word or a name and find out something we didn't know before? With so much knowledge just a click away, doesn't that mean we should focus more on teaching problem-solving, creativity, innovation, collaboration, critical thinking, etc. instead of teaching our kids useless facts. If this is the way we choose to go, then the laptop is the perfect tool to help us get there.

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Check out: | Digital Cameras in the Classroom | Education in a Flat World

1 comment:

Murray said...

I'm with you and feel your pain.

"What do you expect when technology is rushed into the classroom, with little training and preparation for the teachers --it is doomed to fail from the start."

I would go one step further. If teachers are using teacher-centric approaches, no amount of technology will help. But those with learner-centred approaches will be able to see the potential for enhanced learning using technology.

The mind shift needs to be in the approach to learning, before technology can be employed. The training needs to be in how learning works, then on how technology can help. Flummoxed teachers who refuse to give students responsibility for their own learning and cannot design meaningful learning experiences, are the ones who need most help.

I wrote on similar things in Laptop programs need proper preparation.

I've often wondered why education is always several steps behind technology - but should be leading it!