The Electric Educator: Challenging Educational Technology

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Challenging Educational Technology

I'm a big supporter of educational technology. This blog is primarily dedicated to sharing tips, tricks, and ideas on how to successfully use technology to increase student engagement, critical thinking, and mastery of learning objectives.

From time to time I think it is important to examine my assumptions on life, to ensure that I'm not missing something. To this end I have begun to read and follow several critics of educational technology. While at first glance these individuals may seem to be critical of technology in the classroom, or technology in general, a closer examination reveals that they really aren't. Each of them is deeply committed to encouraging critical thinking and evaluation amongst students. Their concerns with educational technology tend have more to do with with mindless and mis-informed application of the technologies as a panacea for educational reform, rather than a problem with the technology itself. This is evidence by the fact that each of them maintain blogs and several are active on Twitter.

Jerrid Kruse
Jerrid Kruse is the author of the blog "Teaching as a Dynamic Activity." A former middle school science teacher, Kruse is now teaching at the college level. He is quick to call out the assumptions that many educators make regarding the use of technology in the classroom. To get a sense of Kruse's philosphy on Ed. Tech. I would recommend this short post.
Kruse is very active on Twitter on regularly posts comments on blogs that he subscribes to. If you are lucky enough to receive a comment from Jerrid, you can be sure that it will be insightful and well reasoned, even if you disagree with it!

Larry Cuban
Larry Cuban is a former high school teacher, school superintendent, and college professor. Now retired, Larry blogs about his research on 1:1 programs and other education topics. Cuban is not anti-technology, but he does not see it as a silver bulletin in solving the problems in the American system of education. In this post, Cuban spells three errors that he has observed:

1. The first error that technology enthusiasts make is to overemphasize the importance of students’ access to technology in schools and underestimate teachers’ influence on students’ learning.
2. The second error technological enthusiasts make is seeing public schools as only about learning. They want schools to socialize the young into the workplace and community, provide for their personal well-being, and produce civic-minded, engaged adults.
3. The third error they make is to indulge in magical thinking. Researchers have failed again and again to show that students using computers in classrooms will improve test scores, lift graduation rates, and reduce dropouts.
Nicholas Carr
Nicholas Carr is not an educator, but has written several books regarding the impact technology is having on society. I've put one of his books The Shallows, on my reading list for this summer.

John T. Spencer
Recently John T. Spencer put up a nice post regarding the peer pressure of using technology in his classroom. It's definitely worth a read.  His primary point is that the use of technology has bred an elitist group of teachers who believe that their technology prowess makes them better than everyone else. You may not agree, but it will get you talking!

Dan Rezac
If you think the iPad (or any other idevice) is the answer to life's questions? You need to read Dan Rezac's post on the "deification of iDevices."

Where do you go to challenge your assumptions and ideas?

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