Monday, October 10, 2011

Education Technology - Will it save education?

Jack Schneider's article Questioning Our Mania For Education Technology reemphasized what I have been reading in my doctorate course the last couple of weeks regarding the assumption by many that education technology is going to solve all the problems of education and help all students succeed. I have been immersed in Neil Selwyn's book, Education and Technology: Key Issues and Debates, where, he goes into much more detail on the points Jack Schneider brings up - that basically a lot of investment in money and time are put into getting technology into schools in order to improve education, but that it doesn't work.  A lot of assumptions are made, but buying the latest and greatest technology tools doesn't mean the underlying problems of education are going to be solved.

Neither Selwyn nor Schneider are saying we shouldn't be investing in technology.  The underlying message in Selwyn is that educational technology is going to to impact teaching, teachers, schools and schooling.  But - without looking at the social and political context schools and their processes, using educational technology is not in and of itself going to improve education. Schneider mentions past technology, such as radio and tv, that was at the time thought to change education for the better.  Selwyn goes much more into detail on these innovations and the historical assumptions made about how those technologies were assumed to be what was needed to change education for the better and their subsequent failure to actually change education. The lesson here is that we need to be careful in assuming that just because a new technology has the potential to help improve education, that it will. Nothing will improve teaching and learning if it is not done right.  Buying every student an iPad is not going to improve their learning if teachers don't use the right apps or are not taught themselves how to appropriately use that tool to TEACH and LEARN.  Having the technology doesn't mean using the technology appropriately.

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