High-Tech in High School?

I’ve been procrastinating for a while.  I wanted to write about the cycle of the next new things (technology) that will revolutionize learning in the classroom.  There has been a constant march of “breakthroughs” such as laserdiscs, laptops, palm pilots, and lately iPads and tablets – all which promised to revolutionize learning.  My procrastinating has paid off – someone else wrote a great column on this very topic!

Check out http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-hiltzik-20120205,0,639053.column.

Michael Hiltzik recalls a quote: “Books will soon be obsolete in the schools…. Our school system will be completely changed in 10 years.” The kicker – it was Thomas Edison who said it in 1913 – and the technology he was speaking about was movies!

A few of Mr. Hiltzik’s nuggets of wisdom:

“The push for advanced technology in the schoolroom then and now was driven by commercial, not pedagogical, considerations.”

“It’s great to suggest that every student should be equipped with a laptop or given 24/7 access to Wi-Fi, but shouldn’t our federal bureaucrats figure out how to stem the tidal wave of layoffs in the teaching ranks and unrelenting cutbacks in school programs and maintenance budgets first? School districts can’t afford to buy enough textbooks for their pupils, but they’re supposed to equip every one of them with a $500 iPad?

He also quotes Richard Clark,  director of the Center for Cognitive Technology at USC;

“The media you use make no difference at all to learning, Not one dang bit. And the evidence has been around for more than 50 years.”

My point is simple – this is a great column – one that we should put in front of our school boards and administrators.  I’ll leave you with one more quote about technology from the column.

… it distracts from and sucks money away from the most important goal, which is maintaining good teaching practices and employing good teachers in the classroom.

I could not have said it better myself!

About Dave Adkins

I was born and raised in upstate New York and still live there. I went to Syracuse University for a BS in Telecommunications, but did not quite stick to the standard four year plan. I took a year off and went on the road as a drummer in a top-forty band. After college, I continued to play and also did a tour as the Technical Director for an Ice Show (yes – skaters!). Our biggest show was for President Carter at the White House the Christmas before he left office. After getting married, I worked in a number of technology companies designing, consulting, and implementing computer systems and networks. In 1991 I finished an MBA with a concentration in Information Technology. My wife was in law school, so it was the perfect time to go back to school. After this round of graduate school, we had two kids (now 16 and 18 – boy and girl), and I went to work for New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) in 1993. In the new millennium, my wife got elected as a local judge, I finished a PhD in Information Science and moved up the ladder to become the Director of Information Technology for NYSUT. I am an adjunct professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the undergraduate program and have also taught in an evening MBA program. I also have been active lately giving "Cyber Safety" workshops for parents of teens. I enjoy volunteering as a Board member for several local organizations and recently dusted off my drums and started playing again.
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