A Can of Worms: Education Reform and Technology

can of wormsDespite the risk of opening a can of worms in our third post at the Upper Grades Exchange, I am going to talk about two things. Here, there, and everywhere in education circles, two refrains are heard over and over again: “Reform is a must” and “It’s technology or bust.”

Recently over at our sister blog, Be The Difference, Diane asked about exposure to interactive whiteboards (IWBs) and how you use them in daily lessons (if you use them at all).

Well, my questions are these: Can the latest and greatest technologies be the reform our schools need? Is there technology (whether it be IWBs, laptops, tablets, etc.) that you reach for on a regular basis to enhance instruction?

Post your comment and become part of the discussion now.

13 thoughts on “A Can of Worms: Education Reform and Technology

  1. I honestly do not believe technology is the answer. The reform we need is a back to basics approach where students learn not only the material needed but also how to interact in a respectful way, how to be responsible for their actions, and how to be positive role models instead of spreading hatred. When those values become important in education as well as society in general, we then be able to make a difference again.

  2. I use an IWB (which I will now refer to as a smart board) every single day! I am not going to go as far as saying IT IS the reform we need in our schools, but I will say the children love it. They are so engaged and part of the lesson when we are using the smartboard. The children love learning how to “work” the smartboard and learning whatever it is we are working on. I think learning to use the technology is just one more step in the educational lives. We know these are ‘digital children’ and their life is going to be different than our; we owe it to them to teach them how to use technology in the classroom! It makes their content more meaningful, more real and more exciting to learn. The smartboard is an amazing tool – yes I use it as a ‘board’, but it is so much more. Any site I pull up on my laptop to show the students I can ‘freeze’ and manipulate on the smartboard. We can take any text and high light it or take it apart. The built in tools that come with the smart software are also great – my kids love measuring and creating angles with the protractor! Who knew they would love angles? I, again, will not say that IWB’s are THE reform needed, but I do believe every class deserves one.

  3. I believe it needs to be a combination of both basics and technology. We need to meet the students where they are and that has to do with technology. I still feel there are some basics that just need to be taught i.e. math facts, rules for grammar, etc…
    To keep the attention of the kids we are going to have to incorporate technology. It is their way of life and we need to embrace it.

  4. As with so many topics in education, the answer is not so clear cut as either technology OR basics. I use the smart board daily to enrich and expand the basics I teach my middle school students. My students often come to me behind their same aged peers because they were not engaged in the academic environment & acted out their frustrations. It is important as educators that we “stay with the times” to actively engage our students yet also cultivate an appreciation for a basic value – lifelong learning.

  5. I appreciate all of your comments. Technology in the classroom and education reform are perennial hot-buttons, with the latter front-and-center in the last six months or so. Also, I agree that what we’re truly talking about is the complicated lives of children and the very difficult job of being an effective teacher. You’re all doing wonderful work and I appreciate your comments. If there’s something else you’d like to add, please do so.

  6. The technology is only as good as the teacher who uses it. I have seen many classrooms with IWB’s being used only as large screens.The students who really benefit from technology are the ones whose teachers are willing to try it in new ways and let the students “teach” with it too. We can beg for more money and more technology, but it’s still the teacher who is going to guide the education!

  7. I teach 4th grade and have been an educator for almost 40 years. I know it is important for our students to be exposed to new technology. I know we want them to be actively engaged. However, I think too much time and WAY too much money is being spent on all of the new technology that comes on the market. Our students continue to fall behind other countries, and all of the technology in the world hasn’t and isn’t going to change that. We live in a society that expects to get something with little or no effort. Learning requires time and effort from parents, children and teachers. There is no quick fix, like buying IWB’s for each classroom.

  8. I support the use of technology and am fortunate to work for a 1:1 District where all students grade 5-12 have MacBooks. I also just recently had a smart board installed in my classroom. However, I do not believe that technology is the key to reform. I’m also not a big fan of going back to the basics as here is more to a good education than reading, writing, and math. We’ve already given up the arts in many places. I believe that reform must include looking at the whole picture instead of focusing on one aspect of education. I think we need to look at teacher education programs, teacher effectiveness, student preparedness (did they have breakfast, do they have a safe place to do homework, did they get any sleep etc), parent involvement, administrative effectiveness…the whole shebang.

  9. I wish that the answer was one philosophy or the other but the truth, methinks, is in another direction. When all students have teachers that have access to solid training in how to support, assess, and respond to the learning needs of individual students AND have appropriate technology available to best meet these student needs . . . we will be on our way as educators.

  10. I totally agree with Deborah B. Learning requires concentration and commitment! However, to answer your question, I love using the Smart Board in my room. One student writes an answer on it while all my other students are writing on their old-fashioned white board. Everyone is on task and I see their thinking in a walk around the room.

  11. I agree with Jill. A good education has so many variables. I do believe that with all the new technology entering our world, education is going to have to look at a new pedagogy that is radical to how we have been teaching. I am working on my Masters in Educational Technology and my capstone is on the 1:1 initiative. I’m curious how you see that working.

  12. In response to Karen,
    Going back to the basic where content is learned is really on the lower levels of Bloom’s Hierarchy. Teaching students to find, evaluate, and work with information is the direction I believe we need to move towards. Technology forces us to teach these skills as information is aquired in a new way. Of course I agree we need to teach respect and responsiblity to our students. That is another aspect of education all together.

  13. I work with middle school students in a setting whee we have computer labs, but at least 1/2 of the teachers a resistant to using any technology integration.

    I ask my collegues ” If you taught children in China, wouldn’t you need to learn the language?”
    In my opinion, our current technologies are becoming the “language of communication” that our students are immersed in.

    I do not personally think it is the best way to communicate, there is not one “best” way to communicate- all good teachers believe in differentiation. I feel it necessary to understand “the language of technology” in order to communicate with the students, when successful,this builds a community of trust where as co-learners we are willing to step out of our comfort zones and learn in a new way.

    If I can use the “technology” – whatever it is at that moment – to immerse my students in learning, I have succeeded in moving forward.

    Anyone see this youtube video – the printed book was considered also a challenge to use at one point: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-xmTTzCAALc

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