Wednesday, August 20, 2008

New York Times Essay Takes an Optimistic Look at Technology in School Education

This is an article written for the New York Times by a self-professed techno-optimist (I think I too could call myself that), about the coming of age of technology use in classrooms after years of bumbling and trying and testing.

The context is US schools and quite different from the average school in India in terms of access to technology - "The ratio of computers to pupils is one to one. Technology isn’t off in a computer lab. Computing is an integral tool in all disciplines, always at the ready." While India is nowhere near there in terms of access, there are learnings for schools and teachers in India - to leapfrog to using technology in ways that make sense today - that these schools in the US have realized after decades of attempting to make technology work. For example,

"Until recently, computing in the classroom amounted to students doing Internet searches, sending e-mail and mastering word processing, presentation programs and spreadsheets. That’s useful stuff, to be sure, but not something that alters how schools work."

[How many schools in India are investing in technology just to get their students to be doing this? That money is better spent elsewhere, in my view. Kids are going to learn these tools anyway - and with much more ease then teachers, I should add.]

"The new Web education networks can open the door to broader changes. Parents become more engaged because they can monitor their children’s attendance, punctuality, homework and performance, and can get tips for helping them at home. Teachers can share methods, lesson plans and online curriculum materials.

In the classroom, the emphasis can shift to project-based learning, a real break with the textbook-and-lecture model of education."

The biggest take-away for me from this article -

"..while computer technology has matured and become more affordable, the most significant development has been a deeper understanding of how to use the technology."

1 comment:

Mouly said...

I love technology more than anything. However I don't subscribe to this idea of "pushing" technology into classrooms.

I support schools embracing the use of computers, but not at the cost of teaching more fundamental skills.