|Technology and Instruction – Fairy Dust (Image Source)|
In my tongue in cheek post yesterday, The Secret Is Out, I briefly shared the results of a new study claiming that “school computers and classroom technology does not improve pupils’ performance.” That claim–supported by research–should come as no surprise to anyone in educational technology, much less schools. I’m reminded of that shocking moment when an area superintendent for a large urban school district said something along the lines of, “Technology needs to be like magic fairy dust…it needs to raise scores in math and science by 10 points.” Flabbergasted, I simply stood mute, as if I’d been hit with a dark spell of silence.
This old-fashioned idea that technology is going to raise test scores, improving student achievement on standardized, high stakes assessments needs to die. The heyday of this idea was during drill-n-practice, tutorial software commonly known as “integrated learning systems.” These expensive, high-powered systems would assess students then prescribe a learning solution. My favorite part of the “diagnosis” was that it was always 2 levels below where students were really at…that way, the ILS could show that it was working since students improved dramatically in a short time. Smoke and mirrors.
Real change is hard work, involves differentiating content, process and products, empowers students to have more autonomy over what and when they learn, focuses on inquiry, is process oriented and supports evaluative reflection. Children can’t be plopped in front of technology and then we all stand around waiting for the magic to happen. But what should we be doing instead?
That’s the fun question.