Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Could I Disagree With This Article Any More Than I Already Do?

Probably, but it would require some effort.

Here's the article in question. Go take a read. Then come back here and let's discuss :-)

Off we go again, down the road to Techno-Utopia. There are times, places, and situations in which using some form or other of technology is beneficial. But let's remember--good teachers have been inspiring students for millenia without using Twitter, and I have no doubt they will continue to do so. Some subjects and topics are more amenable to technology usage than others, and we should strive to take maximum advantage of technology in those subjects and topics. The author of that article will no doubt say I'm part of the problem (as I blog away near my 4500th post), but I can't imagine why someone would need a social media site to help them reach and teach children.

Much of that article sounds a lot like tech for its own sake. There will always be new technology; will it always be necessary to incorporate it into education? Did film strips, movies, and later, VCRs, revolutionize education? Of course not. And it was foolish to expect that they would. The I CAN Learn program was no panacea for math education, either, although Virginia Tech tried something similar and implemented it well. At my own school I can cite examples of teachers who are exceptional at integrating technology into their curriculum, as well as others who only think they're exceptional at it. It takes more than knowledge of tech to use it well as an instructional tool--and let's never forget that it's only a tool, no more or less effective than the person using it.

Note the condescending tone of the first linked article. Anyone who doesn't use social media in their own lives, and who won't integrate them into their courses, is out of date and unable to teach children; techies should run the show. I don't need someone to talk down to me, and I'll stack my teaching competence up against any standard. My whiteboard will always work, and I'll use the force of my personality to reach and teach students. If I wanted to be snarky and condescending, I might suggest that perhaps some people need the technology to make up for their personal and/or professional shortcomings--but I'm not that snarky and condescending.

I'm just a blogger with an opinion.

Update: Here's what's happened at Philadelphia's misnamed School of the Future.


Jason said...

As a former engineer I find it irritating when condescending academics (such as the author)equate the word "technology" with computers, and almost exclusively with communication/presentation software. The word technology comes from the greek word "techne" meaning "carpenter". Thus, computers are one type of technology, fluff presentation software another. As an engineer I utilized AutoCAD and Solidworks computer aided design software for mechanical design (not-so-fluffy software). For the past 8 years I have taught machining tool TECHNOLOGY classes (both manual and CNC); my students learn how to make precision parts from pieces of metal. Machining involves a variety of technologies including metallurgy, tribology, thermodynamics, metrology (after all, we make parts with dimensions in 3 and 4 decimal places). CNC brings additional technologies to the party.
Little does "Mr. Ed Tech" realize that a technology that we all rely on every day was created by the Romans: concrete. They even had different formulations of concretes for different applications - which engineers refer to today as "mix designs".

Darren said...

Hear hear!

I used to be a special projects manager in a machine shop. We used lots of data collection devices to assist with our statistical process control program. We also had CNC mills and "programmable" sheetmetal stamping equipment.

In industry, we used only enough technology to make money for the company, and no more. It was a means to an end, not the end itself.

allen (in Michigan) said...

As a computer programmer with a long-standing, borderline obsessive interest in the use of computers in education, what I find irritating is the crafting of a solution without, at first, understanding the problem. In this case the problem is the political nature of public education which precludes the embracing of technological solutions as outlined by the author for the simple reason that they're not necessary.

In the business world competition justifies the value of computers. In the military it's victory and survival that justify the value of computers. What's the justification that for the use of computers in public education?

It certainly isn't more efficient use of personnel since in politics a reduction in budget, which a head-count cut would certainly result in, is evidence of failure. It certainly isn't increasing the efficiency of the education process since, until the advent of NCLB, that was a largely-ignored consideration exceptions notwithstanding.

In fact, there's no good reason, in the current structure of public education, to use computers. The only problem that needs a solution is how to increase budgets and there's no educational use of computers that'll do that.

Anonymous said...

I've seen too many students who rely on technology and who don't have a grasp on reality. For example, look at the students who just punch numbers into a calculator and then blindly accept the answer without having any idea if the answer is plausible because they don't know how to handle exponents. Ditto for folks who rely on the spelling checker in their word processing programs instead of actually knowing how to spell (or what constitutes proper grammar).

And that's not to mention those folks who text on their cellphones, and who now don't know how to properly spell anything due to the massive amount of abbreviations they use since it's so damned awkward to type on those things!


Curmudgeon said...

"In industry, we used only enough technology to make money for the company, and no more. It was a means to an end, not the end itself."

Let's twist this a little ...

"In education, we should use only enough technology to make our teaching successful, and no more. It is a means to an end, not the end itself."

That looks right.

Darren said...

Curmudgeon--if that's how we did it in education, I'd have no issue. Our other commenters, though, show that that's not the case.

Curmudgeon said...

I wouldn't argue that in the slightest. Note I said SHOULD USE.

The great majority of the technology acquisition in education over the past ten years has been primarily driven by gee-whiz-neato instead of educational utility.

"If I wanted to be snarky and condescending, I might suggest that perhaps some people need the technology to make up for their personal and/or professional shortcomings--but I'm not that snarky and condescending. "

Maybe not, but I am. ;-)