Why Use Technology in Education? My Critique

Why Use Technology in Education?

http://www.macinstruct.com/node/7

“A common theme among school district mission statements is the preparation of students to be productive members of an ever-changing society. Much of that change is due to technology. Without a commitment to using technology in the classroom, both to teach and to learn, we will be unable to meet those mission statements.”

First of all the mission statement is wrong. Education should be to prepare kids to be adults, id est, to be knowledgeable citizens. It has never been to prepare the kids for work. Work should do the preparing—the training. Actually I did not grow up with computers but I did have to use them in the late 70s at work, so I know from experience that it was not necessary to use computers in school.

Schools cannot teach technology. Rather by the time they do the technology has changed. Meaning if you teach an incoming Freshman through his/her Senior year on a particular piece of hardware/software they will be obsolete by the time their Senior year comes or ends. What are they supposed to do—change technology every couple of years or so?

A commitment to technology is not necessary if you say your first statement is wrong. We are spending $10s Billions every year on technology, in my opinion, wasting it. There is no proof that CAI is better than traditional teaching.

But your basic argument is that because computers are omnipresent then we must teach the kids to use computers.

First, air is omnipresent. Did we have to teach kids how to breathe? A poor analogy I know. Partially because computers are everywhere they will have no problem learning to use them to do their jobs once they graduate. I recently saw, on the local news, a group of octogenarians learning to use computers.  The young students will learn to use them at home or the library, as most kids grow up with computers in their home. My daughter by the time she was 4 or 5 could load software on the computer by herself and play the computer games she loaded. This is not a difficult skill. Computers are so ubiquitous in part because Microsoft made the OS more and more user-friendly. Meaning that in 40s-70s you needed to be a nerd to operate a computer; now anyone can use one. It is not necessary to have them in schools (K-12). Mostly to use a computer is to learn to double-click on an icon on the desktop to launch a program. Most people will never learn the inner workings of a computer but they do not need to know that.

“The use of technology in education has been steadily growing in the United States with a recent push from the Federal, State and Local Education Agency (LEA) levels.” I agree that there has been a push but just because there is, does not make it right. Just because we can does not mean we should.

A little history here: About 1900 radio was supposed to revolutionize education, and about 1950 it was TV, and now (2000s) it is computers. That is about every 50 years. There are those in government back the 90s that said by the year 2000, we would have gone to e-textbooks completely. Just because people think that technology is great it does not necessarily mean it will or should be used in education.

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