Monday, May 11, 2015

Technology and Its Added Value to Education

Technology is a tool, not a "goal" or a "standard". If the answer in education is "technology", the most likely question is "how can we spend the most amount of money for the least education bang?" Almost 10 years ago I pointed out the folly of the One Laptop Per Child initiative, and I was called a hater, a racist, a Luddite, an obstructionist, and worse, for not believing the hype. I chose then, and still choose, to think with my head and to feel with my heart, and that bifurcation serves me well.  The real world sometimes requires more than good intentions, it requires good ideas--and thinking that a tool is going to solve education problems is a fool's errand:
Technology can’t provide a quick fix for social problems, Kentaro Toyoma tells MIT Technology Review.

When he worked for Microsoft in India, Toyoma tried to use technology to strengthen schools, teach farming techniques and improve health. Now a “recovering technoholic” and university professor, he’s the author of Geek Heresy: Rescuing Social Change from the Cult of Technology.

One Laptop per Child, which which provided low-cost laptops to children in the Third World, had little effect, says Toyoma.
It was a tremendous waste of money, TED Talks notwithstanding.


pseudotsuga said...

It's cargo cult thinking--just putting a magic object in the hands of the child will call down the blessings of technology upon him or her.
Never mind the fact of what the kids actually DO with the computer...

Ellen K said...

Our district bought into this myth big time. We converted from PC's which we were told were used because it was the machine of business to more expensive Apple products because the new superintendent liked them. He ran through our rainy day fund like a Democrat on crack. We now have a shortfall. He got mad when the board told him that new computers would have to be Chromebooks because the costly Ipads given to every single student from Kinder to grade 11 (many of which were broken, lost, found in Mexico...)could no longer be afforded. He left soon after that decision. Many of us think he was on the take. What is more, a superintendent from a nearby district followed the same script-strip away PC's, replace with Apple. I sure wish someone would do an investigation on how Apple is manipulating districts to make costly mistakes.