8 great questions about techno-solutionism for schools

Anya Kamenetz asks:

What can technology solve? What is it helpless to solve?

Where do we need to innovate? What do we need to preserve?

What is really broken about school right now? What’s working? and finally,

Who is deciding? Who are we not hearing from?

via http://digital.hechingerreport.org/content/the-gates-foundation-is-the-36-billion-gorilla-of-education_754

6 Responses to “8 great questions about techno-solutionism for schools”

  1. How about: what works with technology and how do we know that it works? Why does it work and whom does it work for?

    Seems there is a presumption of positive effect here.

  2. Excellent additions to the list, Ed. Thanks for the contribution!

  3. “What can technology solve?” In my experience, technology has tended to increase student engagement. I’m not sure it’s the technology itself so much as the fact that the tools we have today make a lot of interesting, creative, and meaningful learning activities that would be difficult or impossible otherwise.

    “What is it helpless to solve?” I think trying to address a behavior problem with a technical solution is often not the best choice. Why is it that when a student misuses technology, the solution is so often to either take the technology away or lock it down? Yes there is definitely a need to filter or block certain content, and yes students’ actions should have consequences, but “take away the technology” as a response to misuse can be overdone.

  4. For the most part, technology solves nothing. People using technology do the solving. (See: guns.)

    And there is little broken about schools right now if you have a traditional, non-networked, institutionally organized view of education and learning. Nod doubt, there are struggling schools, but as Ravitch et. al. point out, scores, graduation rates, etc. are all trending upwards.

    Everything depends on the lens you’re using to define productive learning, whether that’s in or out of a place, at a particular time.

  5. Thanks to most of you for being teachers and educators

    Technology is just another tool in the classroom, the stress being on the word classroom. The ability to use it, how it is used is, and who dictates it’s use. If tests become crafted to specific curriculum, such as “a book,” histories, political history, literature of ideas, then what does a teacher do? If the broaden the discussion do they perhaps undermine scores, and scholarships.

    I live in Alaska and went to the University of Alaska in Territorial Days, just over 500 students, many Korean vets, therefore older. I had classes of 10 to 20, even as low as five. I know the wealth of teacher mentoring. I am a former legislator, Speaker of the House, and a journalist, and have been for well over a half century, writing on politics, economics, and sometimes history – issues in perspective.

    Distance education is now the big “WOW” for our scattered and isolated Native Villages, places where it is had to retain teachers and where teachers arrive and have to work through cultural shock. Here technology can be useful, but far more desperately needs trained teachers, and investment to build the classroom to use that technology.

    The teacher and the training they are given is “the everything” of whatever tool someone invents. When I went to school classes were smaller, but the pervasive culture was students didn’t much mix and talk with teachers. Today that’s different, today we may say our students are undisciplined and unruly, but they will talk to teachers (and adults) – that is if they have time.

    We have several districts that teach in Native languages, usually through classroom aides that were assisted in becoming teachers – this by the University – the state department were just short of overtly hostile. But this was also a key for non-Native teachers to bond with students. The non-resident teachers turned the deck upside down – they had the students attempt to teach them Yupik – a real “hoot” for the students.l

    Today we are getting top down policy that binds the role of states, districts the neighborhood school, and teachers. The problem just isn’t what you see now, but what this kind of dynamics progresses, too.

    You, most of you, are teachers, and you are something special. Again thank you.

    In the opinion of an educator I know from Alaska who is superintendent of an International School in the Far East – “the only thing wrong with American Schools are politicians and the press (who bite on the simple lines).

    Michael Bradner akdigest@gmail.com

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