A recent Wall Street Journal Article is attracting attention. It found (gasp) using computers doesn’t give you better test scores. Technology in classrooms means little. Here’s why:
“The report suggested that “we have not yet become good enough at the kind of pedagogues that make the most of technology; that adding 21st century technologies to 20th century teaching practices will just dilute the effectiveness of teaching.”
Report results are based on an assessment in 2012 that tracked students in more than 40 countries and surveyed them on computer habits and conducted both written and digital tests.
On average, seven out of 10 students in countries surveyed use computers at school and students average at least 25 minutes a day online. In some countries, like Turkey and Mexico, about half of the students don’t have access to a computer at home.
The survey found that students with more exposure to computers do better, on average, than those with little exposure to computers, but the OECD cautioned against drawing conclusions based on that result. The data could simply reflect that school systems that invest in technology also invest in better teachers and draw on students from a higher socio-economic class, who tend to do better in school.”
IT IS HOW YOU USE TECHNOLOGY!
You can’t get smarter just rubbing Einstein’s head. If he were still alive, you’d have to talk to him. You’d want to interact to improve.
Technology in the Closet
Before I became a high school teacher, I taught teachers how to use technology. I’ll never forget my discovery about edtech.
I was lost in the building. I opened the door to the closet instead of the conference room. The closet was full from bottom to top with computers in boxes.
I had just been working in a poor school with few computers. But this closet was full. When I asked if the teachers could have them, I was told they stockpiled them at the end of the fiscal year. They would figure it out. Over a year later when I went back and peeked, the closet was still half full. Nobody figured it out.
I discovered that HAVING technology means nothing. You have to:
- Have technology in the classroom,
- Students must have access, and
- Teachers must know how to teach with tech.
Using Technology in Ways that Improve Classroom Learning
Unless you HAVE NOTHING — and then you don’t even HAVE a chance. And that is unfair.
Technology is here. It can make a massive difference if you HAVE the know-how to teach with it effectively.
Edtech Professional Development Must Amp Up
I went to a recent professional development about differentiated instruction. It was one day of lecture. I couldn’t believe it.
- When I teach collaborative writing, we write collaboratively.
- When I do a workshop on global collaboration, we collaborate globally.
- When I do a workshop on differentiation, I differentiate.
To do otherwise is not only hypocrisy, but it is also a waste of money.
And that is where we are.
A gulf yawns between the haves and HAVE NOTS.
I would argue this.
And the latter two in this list aren’t much different. It is more than technology access. It is how we teach with what we have.
It would be like giving new customer care reps an awesome new system and not training them. But it happens each and every day in our schools. This report is no surprise. It just validates what many in education technology have been saying all along.
If you’ve got the technology, let’s talk about good teaching with it.