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Children are not rats on which educational experiments should be endlessly run. Until we have a body of evidence, hopefully gather by lab schools or non-commercial researchers, we ought to be following best practices as outlined by our professional organizations.
Educational technology experts may be doing both students and themselves a significant disservice by advocating a single, unproven approach to educational practices
Stephen’s response to Doug’s assertions is a blog entry long, but I found this particular section relevant:
Children are lab rats on which endless experiments are run. Coaches try out new practice regimes, advertisers try out new commercials, toy companies test out new games, media companies experiment with new genres (and retread pop idols), clothing manufacturers try out new fabrics, and hospitals try out new treatments. There’s no way to get the evidence other than by experimentation – demanding “best practices” with no experimentation is inherently self-contradictory.
In a knowledge construction setting, technology becomes a tool to help students access information, communicate information and collaborate with others. In today’s classrooms there is certainly the need for some knowledge instruction but a great deal of student activity might involve \ knowledge construction given the explosion of information. We do need to move away from students coming to school to watch teachers work. (Source: Michael Fullan, Technology and the Problem of Change, 1999)
“The most important thing any teacher has to learn, not to be learned in any school of education I ever heard of, can be expressed in seven words: Learning is not the product of teaching. Learning is the product of the activity of learners.” ~John Holt
There’s no simple, cut-n-dried answers, though. Before we euthanize the educational experiments going on in schools, maybe we need to decide what we are trying to accomplish.
It’s a question that came back to mind again after I read this article on Do Principals Know Good Teaching When They See It?
“It takes expertise to make expertise,” Fink and Markholt say, yet coaching in schools is “still the very rare exception, not the norm.
“We believe that K-12 education, as often practiced, is a quasi-profession at best, because we do not, in fact, have common standards of professional practice.”
From a technology perspective, the answer is a resounding, “No.” You see, my workshops in several large districts have revealed, again and again, that principals really don’t have a clear picture in their mind of what qualifies as technology integration. The most common response after observing technology use was positive. Simply, technology integration occurred at the “desired” level because it was present.
It’s when we think we know, but do not, that we callously commit the most grievous damage.
The “elephant in the room”–for proponents of educational technology–is how the success of technology implementation in the classroom is gauged. In this case of this particular article, results on a standardized test are the measure of success or failure. As we are all well aware, there has been much gnashing of teeth related to the merits (or lack thereof) of standardized testing. When educational professionals struggle to be convinced that standardized testing measures what is truly relevant to our students, I think it is a bit presumptuous to make judgements about the “value” of technology based upon these results.
Source: Jeff Delp, Balancing Technology and Pedagogy
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