Friday, May 8, 2009

A Dialogue and Response to Ben Grey

My understanding of your argument in your blog post Why Technology?:

1. Technology use in education is being questioned.
2. Technology use in education is or may be cut.
3. Technology is expensive
4. Technology has not been proven to affect test scores
4a. Test schools may not be the correct outcomes, but they are the desired outcomes of the public and politicians
5. A defense of technology must be developed to protect budgets and personnel.

1. As educators, I would argue that our first obligation is to engage the question: What are the learning outcomes that we need and want? The failure to confront this question directly is the root of our problem, I would argue - not which tools are the best in achieving the "wrong" outcome.
2. Then we can debate how we allocate monies among the contending tools.
3. Technology is only a tool
4. We spend lots of money on other tools: books, pencils, paper, classrooms
5. What evidence do we have that they affect test scores?
6. We do have evidence that teaching to the test improves test scores.
7. What tools do we need?
8. My immediate answer (but I will think more about it) is that I must have these tools:
8a. a device to connect to the internet
8b. a connection to the internet
8c. tools to collect and disseminate information in all of its current forms:
8c1 text (so pencils, paper, or "text machines". I do think we are beyond typewriters!)
8c2 sound (so audio recorders of some sort)
8c3 video (since they are able to record audio we might eliminate separate audio collector)
8c4 still pictures (vii and viii are coming together; new devices are on the horizon that will do all of the above - for less than $ 500 plus connection fees)
8c5 I did not mention books. If we had to do without technology or books, which would we eliminate? Books, of course. We are now living in a listening/ watching culture, not a reading/writing one. So out with books. A district in Colorado has already done this!
9.After doing that, we have money for technology. But the technology should belong to the user, not the school. That's where Obama's initiatives come in. Wire the USA and get technology in the hands of users.
10. And "technology teachers". I would eliminate them as well. Every teacher should know how to use technology. Students mostly do already. We could use technology coaches for a while, or technology support teachers, but not labs and not "technology teachers."
So there is a quick look at my Strange response. I will expand on my remarks later and let you know where I print them (not in a book, but in a free blog).


  1. Here's a few thoughts on why we should have technology in the classroom...
    • It makes things easier to do.
    o Do we really want to go back to written grade books, hand written Message for Yous?
    o Do we really want to go back to the typewriter to write assignments?
    • It makes things easier to show.
    o Do we really want to go back to a time before film projectors, television and video projectors? What would we use? Flannel boards and chalk drawings?
    o Do wereally want to give up the ability to create your own visual presentations rather then on a production company or graphics shop?
    • It provides more avenues to communicate.
    o Do we really want to go back to notes and handouts given to a student to take home?
    o Do we really want to
    • It makes things easier to find.
    o Do you really want to go back to doing research only at a library?

  2. I appreciated your comments, but must make objections to your #10 (and yes, I am a teacher teaching other teachers how to effectievly use technology!).

    "students mostly do already". I would love to see my firm belief backed up by reserach, but I do believe that it is true that many, if not a majority, of students do not use technology efficiently and productively, much of the time. And many used technology unsafely and inappropriately at times. I think it is a mistake (and a point made by many "anti-tech" teachers) that students already "know how" to use technology.
    I do agree that we should not teah technology skills as a separate course. But, at the level of technology use of many, probably a majority of teachers, they do need a lot of support. And pedagological support from an academic technologist can be invaluable.