Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Mandating Techonology In Classrooms

This doesn't sound right:
Ann Rosenbaum, a former military police officer in the Marines, does not shrink from a fight, having even survived a close encounter with a car bomb in Iraq. Her latest conflict is quite different: She is now a high school teacher, and she and many of her peers in Idaho are resisting a statewide plan that dictates how computers should be used in classrooms.

Last year, the state legislature overwhelmingly passed a law that requires all high school students to take some online classes to graduate, and that the students and their teachers be given laptops or tablets. The idea was to establish Idaho's schools as a high-tech vanguard.

To help pay for these programs, the state may have to shift tens of millions of dollars away from salaries for teachers and administrators. And the plan envisions a fundamental change in the role of teachers, making them less a lecturer at the front of the room and more of a guide helping students through lessons delivered on computers.

This change is part of a broader transformation that is creating tension – a tension that is especially visible in Idaho but is playing out across the country. Some teachers, even though they may embrace classroom technology, feel policymakers are thrusting computers into classrooms without their input or proper training. And some say they are opposed to shifting money to online classes and other teaching methods whose benefits remain unproven.
Do legislators know enough about education that they should mandate things like this, or might they be responding to a, uh, "special interest", or might they just be sticking their nose where it doesn't belong? There are valid arguments both for and against having technology in some classes, but to mandate it willy-nilly is just plain foolish.


allen (in Michigan) said...

What legislators know is less important then what legislators can decide. That's the nature of public education - political, and there's nothing anyone can do about it while the current system remains as it is.

Besides, the public education system's been fabulously ineffective, uninterested and wasteful in the use of technology. The folks who are, ultimately, in charge have gotten tired of waiting for the professionals to utilize technology and have decided to use the tool available to them - a mandate.

It's a lousy solution and bound not to work but what are the alternatives without significant, foundational changes to public education?

Ellen K said...

My district implemented BYOT this year. If you don't know what that means now, you will soon if you are in a classroom as a student or teacher. Someone in power, probably the same geniuses that brought us Whole Language, Open Classrooms and New Math, have enchanted administrations across the nation with their song and dance. Children will learn! Test scores will soar! And you don't need teachers...of course they dont' SAY that out loud, but the implication is there.

The problem is there is an assumption that these kids are oh so savvy about technology. Take my word for it, they are not. They know how to text, how to take a photo and how to email and THAT IS IT. They don't understand how to attach a file, how to save to the correct drive, how to create a powerpoint, a spreadsheet or even a list. And yet somehow these same children are supposed to virtually teach themselves while a helpful facilitator shows them how to turn on the darned computer.

Studies out just this week are showing that Smart Phones may be seriously handicapping young teens ability to learn how to reason abstractly because it's all done for them. Idiocracy here we come......