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Exploring the Role of Tech in the Classroom

In a recent Education Week Commentary piece, William J. Oehlkers and Cindy DiDonato argue that, for new tech platforms like tablet computers to reach their educational potential (and not become mere classroom distractions), they must be used in the context of project-based learning:

In project-based learning, students identify an authentic, messy debatable question, inquire as to possible answers, and respond by making a presentation, producing an innovation, or planning an event. They use technology to search for information, communicate with others locally and abroad, store vital information, and present their findings. We call this version of project-based learning technology-inquiry education, or TIE. This has the potential to literally harness technology in the service of learning.

Meanwhile, on The Core Knowledge Blog, Jessica Lahey, who teaches in rural New Hampshire, points out that, for many teachers, the whole conversation about digital learning is largely an abstraction:

I teach English, Latin, and writing, and despite the wealth of online educational resources, I can't assign anything that relies on access the internet. It wouldn't be fair to my students have no access to the internet. I don't mean that they don't have high-speed internet access, I mean that they don't have any internet access. Some of my more fortunate students with access are stuck in the far right, dial-up lane. That quaint sound you might remember from 1990, the sound of a computer dialing up to the internet? That's the sound of rural America connecting to the information superhighway, and sadly, there's no port on the iPad 3 for a telephone cord.
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