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More educational technology needed

By Murray Bourne, 02 Aug 2007

Cisco Systems recently polled 7000 Americans for their views on technology in education. An article from eSchool News, Public wants more tech in classrooms had an overview [no longer available]:

...This survey highlights that there is a common understanding and appreciation that technology will play a key role in improving the way teachers teach and students learn, so that they are prepared to take advantage of all the opportunities a global society and networked communities provide.

There is a danger with this thinking. Just by "adding technology", you certainly don't ensure that teachers teach better (often it is the opposite) or that students' learning is improved (often there are more distractions). Changing the approach of education (with or without technology) is the most fundamental issue. A transmissionist, teacher-centred classroom is unlikely to become an effective, learner-centred collaborative classroom simply by adding technology.

Americans also recognize that understanding science and technology is important to success in the 21st-century workforce, the poll suggests: 69 percent of Americans believe that science and math courses should be made mandatory for grades 7 through 12.

Yes, but what is actually done in those compulsory math and science classes needs to be very carefully thought through. Compulsory classes does not necessarily mean more learning.

The following finding on collaborative problem-solving is revealing:

Only 32 percent of those surveyed said they support a grading system that favors teaching students how to work more effectively in groups (by basing 25 percent of a student's grade on group work). Instead, 58 percent said educators should continue to promote and focus efforts on individual performance.

Unfortunately, the article is no longer available.

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