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How Much Does Technology Advance Classroom Learning?
posted by: Steph | June 15, 2010, 02:12 PM   

Technological advances in the last quarter century have forever changed the daily lives of Americans. Rather than getting the news from the paper delivered to your doorstep, you probably download it on your PC or Mac. Tangible books are being replace by Kindles and Nooks, and there are apps for your Droid, Blackberry, or iPhone to do just about everything except pound out your erasers.

Schools have begun adapting to new technologies with assistance and encouragement from the federal government. The Washington Post reports that last year, federal dollars for educational technology totaled more than $800 million and projects that "state and local expenditures will total $16 billion next year."

The real question is how have these expenditures helped American students? The Post article quotes makers of SMART Technologies who claim that their Smart Boards and other interactive devices improve students' performance. However, William Ferriter, a sixth-grade teacher from North Carolina found that, "My kids were bored with it after about three weeks."

Novelty and advancement are prized in America, but so are reading, writing, and arithmetic. The technological devices may help teachers engage their tech-savvy students, but the devices can also be a distraction from the work of educating. Technology's novelty must be balanced with educators who are focused on students' learning, and the result will be a healthy and productive environment with engaged students and modern approaches to teaching the fundamentals.

How have you used new technology in your classroom?
Do new gadgets help engage students?
Are federal, state, and local expenditures on technology funds well spent?

Comment below.

Comments (2)Add Comment
Middle School Math Teacher
written by Bill Owney, Vivian, La., June 21, 2010

As a long-time reader of the Post, I was uniquely disappointed in the disconnect between the headline and the article, and in the weak reporting.
As this blog entry indicates, the headline questioned the contribution of technology to academic achievement; yet the reporter looked at only one form: The SmartBoard. More egregiously, the reporting was strictly anecdotal -- despite a wealth of peer reviewed research to which the Post, no doubt has access. To synthesize that literature, no matter how bright and brilliant the technology, it still comes down to the teacher. Energetic, creative, dedicated teachers use technology to enrich the practice of teaching. Curmudgeonly, close-minded, burned out teachers, apparently, make better copy.
Asst. Prof. Instructional Design & Technology
written by Michael Sukowski, Concordia University Chicago, June 15, 2010

I agree that students may become bored with the tool after three weeks, just as they do with a new Christmas present. It is important to remember that the tool should enhance learning and therefore be part of the background so students don't become bored.

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