A false promise?
I started reading Todd Oppenheimer's book The Flickering Mind, which covers this very topic from a skeptical point of view.
But I also want to remain open to the possibilities that technology does afford to classroom teachers and students. Consider assessment, for instance. Most states have their annual high-stakes standardized exams in the spring and the results aren't returned till the fall. By then it's too late for last year's teacher to do anything about it. And if the schools rely on those tests, the current year teacher won't have a measure of what the child has learned until he's gone to the next grade. And so on and so on. What if students took their tests at a computer and received instant feedback? Wouldn't that help improve instruction?
I'm interested in getting people's ideas about this topic. The Texas Public Education Committee, where I've been working a bit lately, takes up a bill designed to greatly increase the amount of technology used in the classroom. It's probably a good idea, but, as always, the devil is in the details. What are the legitimate, appropriate, and useful applications of technology in the classroom? And when does it become just another quick fix for all that ails us?
Oppenheimer begins his book with a quote from Thomas Edison in 1922: "I belive that the motion picture is destined to revolutionize our education system." Similar claims were made by prominent people about radio and TV. Will computers actually revolutionize education? Or is it, as Oppenheimer claims, a false promise?