my work blog, but after reading it there I thought it just as appropriate for THIS blog, so I'm including it in its entirety here as well. --bryan
Here's a link to an article that you perhaps wouldn't expect to see on the front page of a technology department's blog. But please keep in mind that I'm an educator first and a technology-advocate second, and what I will always want is what is best for students, not what is best for technology.
The article, from the New York Times' September 3 edition, focuses on an Arizona school that has pumped more than 30 million dollars into the technology of the school district, turning the district's classrooms into models of "Next Generation" learning. Every classroom has projectors, interactive whiteboards, document cameras, student input devices, and ample computers for students so that students can learn at their own pace using software not unlike the Compass Odyssey, MAP, and Fast ForWord products used in this school district.
It sounds like a technology director's dream, and it certainly fits the idea of the "Future Classroom" that I've been a proponent of for years.
But here's the problem: This school district is not--as you might expect--leaping past all other schools in Arizona with this innovative approach. In fact, since the program began, the district has actually fallen BEHIND most other schools in the state, with their scores remaining stagnant while other districts are rising. Many proponents of increased technology in the classroom argue that state tests are measuring traditional 20th Century skills and are not able to measure the increased "Next Generation" learning that is taking place in these classrooms. These people may, indeed, have a point, but it is impossible to argue that--"Next Generation" learning or not--these students are not performing as well as their peers in reading and math.
According to the article, one of the reasons for this change may be budget cuts in other areas. In order to afford the gigantic technology bill, the district had to lay off teachers and staff and make other cuts. The increased classroom sizes may contribute to the poor performance of the students.
As I said above, this makes for a strange blog post for a technology website, but I wanted to remind teachers that--no matter what technology is in their classrooms--it's YOU the teacher who is going to really make a difference in whether or not your students learn. The technology is a tool designed to help you help your students. It will never replace good teaching, only supplement it.
Click here to read the article.