Technology and Education
by The Milton Measure on Friday, September 30th, 2011
“Children + Technology = America’s Future.” This salesman-like quote is the slogan for EdTech Action Network, a web-based organization supporting the expanded use of technology in education.
Recently, the Department of Education has focused on providing schools with greater technological resources. According to the Huffington Post, the Department of Education will give more than $7 million this year (up from $300,000 last year) to fund tech-based learning programs. Using technology in classes will not fix the problems with today’s public schools, however. Computers, SmartBoards, and televisions are not going to produce intelligent students or efficient teachers.
On their website, EdTech Action Network lists ways in which modern classroom technology can help to improve “learning and achievement among urban, suburban and rural students of all ages and abilities and aid all students to meet high standards.”
Yes, most people would agree that the use of calculators is a necessity, but what about students’ reliance on computer algebra systems like the TI-Nspire? Should high school students depend on a calculator to do any form of algebra in less than a minute? What complicates matters further is America’s international competition; we are behind other countries in using educational technology to actually replace the jobs of teachers.
According to the Huffington post, students in South Korea have the ability to learn English from life-like robots. As Tucker Balch, associate professor of interactive computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology, argued in an interview with CNN, “it may be better to have a telepresence robot from a highly skilled teacher than to have just an average teacher in the classroom.”
Those who are in favor of increasing the use of technology in schools insist that students are not the only ones who are benefiting from the classroom’s access to technology. EdTech Action Network argues that new technology will help “new and aspiring teachers to become… experts in their subject area”, and provide “administrators with better data that can improve decision-making and policy implementation”.
The contention that technology will create “highly qualified” teachers is baseless. A smart board will not make a teacher better at his or her job, but technology does have the ability to make class work and presentations a lot simpler. When Milton teachers cannot get the smart boards to function properly, however, one questions Milton’s decision to invest in upgraded technology.
I am not the first to point out that class time is often wasted trying to complete an exercise on a spastic smart board when there are spotless whiteboards on either side of the classroom.
Half of the smart boards refuse to work properly, and many teachers at Milton rarely use smart boards at all. Moreover, Milton students aren’t reliant on technology for a good education; in fact, the best teachers I have had at Milton are the ones who usually ignore the smart boards all together.
Some may argue that technology develops learning, but, in reality, one can learn more from a good teacher with a chalkboard than an average one who relies on technology to teach.
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