Put simply, the Holy Grail of education is hard work. There's no "royal road" to geometry, as the old saying goes.
Computers are a tool, nothing more. They are a means, not an end. They are akin to a pencil, a book, a movie projector. Computers have no inherent ability to improve education; how they're used makes all the difference, if there's even a difference.
At a meeting held in my favorite city (cough! cough!) this week, a report given to the American Educational Research Association shows mixed results at best from flooding the education system with computers.
SAN FRANCISCO — Give a kid a laptop and it might not make any difference.
That's the message from research presented here Monday, which suggests that spending millions of dollars to bring technology into kids' homes and schools has decidedly mixed results.
Taxpayer-supported school computer and Internet giveaways are political gold, but studies have questioned whether they actually help student achievement. This research, presented at the American Educational Research Association's annual meeting, confirms skeptics' doubts.
In one study, researchers from Syracuse and Michigan State universities examined a program that gave laptop computers to middle-school students in Ohio in 2003. Preliminary findings are mixed.
"Overall, we don't know if it is a worthwhile investment," says Syracuse researcher Jing Lei.
Why are we surprised? Are we surprised? I'm not. And as much time as I spend on my computer, you'd think I'd be a big fan. And I am a big fan--just not in education.
Here's my idea of how to effectively use computers to support instruction. Note that it's a great use, but it's also limited in scope and very expensive!
As I just reread that post, I almost laughed that I used the same words and ideas in this post. Well, I'm nothing if not consistent!