The rhetoric of most educational technology ‘solutions’ is vastly overblown


Justin Reich says:

if you are building things that are familiar, how are they going to substantially change education?

If our problems are mere inefficiencies – if we need students doing basically exactly what they’ve been doing before but faster – then the gambit of building apps that mirror typical classroom practices will work out great.

If you think that the problems in classrooms are not just about kids doing things a little faster, but doing different things than is current practice, then you need to build things that will be unfamiliar. If your technology is unfamiliar, you need to patiently build a network of educators experimenting with your ideas, reshaping systems – bells, exams, furniture, devices – to accomodate your new technology into a new vision. Initially, these people won’t buy your weirdness; you will practically have to pay them to implement your new ideas.

You, hungry entrepreneur, … you are going to take some familiar feature of classroom experience – the textbook, the flashcard, the lecture, the worksheet, the sticker, the behavior chart – and you will digitize that feature.

Wrapped in a language of transformation and disruption, the ed-tech start-up scene is profoundly conservative.

Our problems in schools go far beyond mere inefficiencies. Are inefficiencies rampant? Absolutely. Can various learning and management technologies help address these inefficiencies? Absolutely. Does merely addressing inefficiencies result in educational ‘transformation?’ Of course not. The rhetoric of most educational technology ‘solutions’ is vastly overblown…

Image credit: Clicker, Tom Magliery

3 Responses to “The rhetoric of most educational technology ‘solutions’ is vastly overblown”

  1. Excellent post. Thanks for sharing it!

    Most of the “educational technology” is little more than taking a textbook or worksheets and putting it on a screen instead of paper. Automated grading may save teachers time, but it has not improved the instruction at all. We have new abilities, we should you use to create the most effective instruction that we can. (Anyone who would like some examples should check out Dan Meyer)

  2. I’d love if you’d elaborate more on this topic in future. And just for kicks, which buzzwords do you find the most off putting? :)

  3. Excellent points. The rant, however, would be more persuasive if you provided examples and numbers still add precision. How many billions have been wasted on misplaced bets on particular edtech salvation promises? I’d love to find out!

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