A mashup of all things educational! From technology and social media to leadership and international education, this is where I will be reflecting and applying everything thing I learn from the web and my PLN. Join me on the adventure and add your opinion to the mix!

11 July 2013

4 Still Not Catching On!

I'm mad.  Yes, mad.  I read an article about Educational Technology from the Economist last week and I've been stewing waiting to calm down before writing this blog post.  While the title is "Catching On At Last," I believe that the Economist in their article only shows that The Economist and America still has NOT caught on to what we are trying to do as educators with Educational Technology!

In the article they talk a lot about data driven computer programs and content software that collects data about the responses of the children.  They mention that this data can be used for tracking success and individualising education to improve scores and help schools and teachers improve the retention and graduation rates of students.  More than 2/3s of the article highlights the use of computers, iPads, and 1 to 1 programs for CONSUMPTION purposes only.

We, as educators in the educational technology sector, have been fighting too hard and for too long about the CREATIVE uses of technology to let an article like this go by without comment.  What they fail to mention in this article is the other side of educational technology that uses software like Edmodo (which was actually mentioned in the article!), Show Me, Educreations, iMovie, My Create, etc. etc. etc. that teach and help students use technology to CREATE and COMMUNICATE their understandings to the world.  Nothing in the article mentions the use of technology for these purposes or in any way that supports collaborative or interactive use of technology with their peers.

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I would like to know where they found their information for this article.  They talk about Pearson as one of the biggest contributors to personalised learning software as well as Khan academy.  Did they talk to any of the amazing educational technology educators out there that are support another view of technology integration?  Agumented reality teachers like Drew Minock, Brad Waid, and Andrew Vanden Heuvel know that engaging groups of students with innovative technology encourages deeper thinking, conversations, and understanding.  Rory Newcomb and Michael Matera understand that using technology and gaming to encourage discussion and deeper learning help students go beyond just the collection of data for improving scores.  Talking to teachers like Adam Taylor, Kim Cofino, and Vicki Davis would have highlighted the fact that social media and blogging are essential uses of technology for students to have contact with others around the world and develop reflective thinking through writing.  Why weren't any of these or similar teachers contacted to give their view of educational technology for this article?

If the Economist or any other national or international news source wants to help shed light on the growing "trend" of technology in education, then I hope they take some time to learn how it's really being used in classrooms around the world.  Attend conferences like the #iste13 conference that happened recently to understand our message about technology integration.  Talk to teachers and get a feel for what is working and how we are encouraging good teaching that uses technology, not the technology tools themselves.  Perhaps when more news sources really "catch on" and give a clearer, accurate picture of the myriad ways technology is being used in classes, we'll have the support and financing we need to make the difference we are hoping for.  If big businesses like Pearson, Harcourt, or even Microsoft want to help, then they sould redistribute their money to more worthwhile causes instead of making more content consumption programs and apps for individualised data tracking.  I would rather them give that money to districts to improve access through better broadband or provide much needed substitutes so that teachers can have proper extended training on good teaching practices like problem based learning and inquiry which utilise technology as a learning tool.  We need news companies and businesses to support the CREATIVE and COLLABORATIVE use of technology, not CONSUMPTION with technology.

What are your opinions after reading the article from the Economist?  Do you feel that it presented a one-sided view of educational technology?  What do you think news and business groups should be focusing on as the message for educational technology?

Looking forward to your thoughts!
Jessica :)

Photo Source:  Flickr CC Kris Mouser-Brown 


William Chamberlain said...

I don't have a problem with using technology for consumption, in fact I use it mostly that way. Let's face it, most of the creative stuff we have kids do in class is pretty derivative too, "Use this tool to make this thing covering this objective.'

Honestly I am much more bothered with the modle of technology as a data collection tool.

Christie said...


Love your response! Hadn't seen the article in the Economist, but I agree that technology in schools should not be focused on consumption and data collection. I reflect on William Ferriter's fabulous graphic that has a been tweeted and retweeted recently; it's not about the tools themselves but about the collaboration and creative skills that we want our students to gain. Clearly, the tools will change and evolve continuously. We need teachers to use sound pedagogy in their classrooms, and have technology as one of the tools for teaching and learning in a Universally Designed classroom.

A continuous frustration for all of us in education is that many outside do not ask the leaders within our field (whom you have named) for their expertise. Rather, they want to solve our problems without understanding them.

Great post.

Anonymous said...

Technology in Education is a huge topic and as you said, There is a myriad of ways technology is being used in classes. With that in mind, the Economist has a target audience that would be interested in a narrow portion of those ways. They do not view things as educators view things, but you know all this. We need not convince the economist of anything. Our biggest battle is to teach our colleagues, educators, the importance and place of technology as a tool for learning, communication, collaboration, creation, and also consumption. I admire your passion. Thanks!

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