Posted by: crudbasher | June 17, 2010

Technology in the Classroom: A Double Edged Sword.

Most technological advancements throughout history have been used for both good and evil purposes.  Nuclear power brings energy but the bomb.  Medical research brings medicines and chemical warfare.  It’s not the tool, but how it is used that changes things.

With this in mind, I had some thoughts about technology in the classroom.  I think it is important to first consider the pedagogy of how the technology will be used before throwing things into the classroom.  Like a good lesson plan, we should have some idea of the outcome we desire to see in the classroom dynamics.

Many respected leaders in education today are talking about the “factory” model of education.  Where each child is given the exact same exposure to material presented by the teacher.  This of course doesn’t take into account the fact that all children are different and logically each will learn a bit differently.

Adding technology into this situation without changing the model will just make the factory more efficient.  Give the teacher an Interactive White Board or a computer and projector and you are still keeping the teacher the center of the instructional process.  This is like how modern factories have robots in them.  They are more efficient, but still turn out the same identical product.  We can use standardized computerized testing to measure this outcome to higher precision and see more efficiently where the process is not working as well, but the premise of the whole thing is wrong.

This is a huge challenge.  It’s a lot easier for politicians  and school boards and unions to drop an IWB into the classroom and increase the spending per student.  That’s just making a more effective factory.  Spending in Education has risen by 40% since 2000.  There hasn’t been a corresponding increase in student performance.

So.  When someone approaches you with some tech they want to drop into your classroom, think about first how to use it.  Don’t be afraid to turn it down if it doesn’t help bring out the best in your kids.   If you do come up with a great way to use some tech, share it around!

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Responses

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by e-learn.net, Andrew Barras. Andrew Barras said: New Post: Technology in the Classroom: A Double Edged Sword http://bit.ly/9rjgJI #edchat #edtech […]

  2. I agree! On all counts!! The IWB seems to encourage teacher centered lessons, rather than student centered learning. I know in my school they were ‘dropped into the classroom’ as you so aptly put it. We have to consider the learning first and then choose appropriate tools (whether that’s hardware or software). The idea of starting with the tool, then figuring out how to use it and what to use it for, just can’t be right!
    Thanks for the post 🙂

    • I keep hearing stories of technologies being introduced into the classroom and then not being used. I think lack of purpose is the reason.

      Thanks so much for your input, it enhanced the conversation!

  3. It seems to me that the model has to be changed before the technology should even be considered. Sure we might have a more effective factory but at the end of the day, what is it that we want? We want students as learners. Lets change the model so that when the technology comes along it is making the learning more efficient and effective, not the teacher.

    • Yes I agree. The problem is, it’s easier to make the factory more efficient isn’t it? As long as spending per student is our metric for progress, then things won’t change. Oooooh that gives me an idea for a blog post!!!

      Thanks Ktenkely you rock! 🙂


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