« Alternatives to Evolution? | Main | Apartheid Schooling? »

Is Classroom Technology 'Half-Baked'?

| 21 Comments

In a recent Classroom Tech column, Alan Warhaftig writes that the implementation of technology in schools is often "half-baked, with too little effort to identify effective practices and belated consideration" of the costs of maintenance. As a result, he says, "many fine teachers don't use instructional technology much," because they aren't convinced it will improve learning.

What's your view? Has instructional technology helped you as a teacher? Why or why not? What's the most effective use of technology in the classroom?

21 Comments

Don't we have a responsibility for preparing children for the world they are going to live in,one full of technology not the world we grew up in. I am sure that reading by candlelight was effective in its time but I don't think the current energy woes are going to lead back to that.There is no doubt that we have a ways to go to understand the best practices and to get a handle on costs but I don't think turning the clock back is the responsible solution.

(1) Technology can attract or distract. Much good learning comes when the teacher or text simplifies the initial presentation. Technology aims more to expedite than to simplify.

(2) I speak as a teacher whose students use computer technology in half my classes. In my early days, students and I could feel good about finishing a tech-based exploration. Students remembered how to use the tools--but tests revealed that the basic concepts were still unclear, and that the classroom that had no computers progressed better.

(3) With tools such as Geometer's Sketchpad, we have found that students seem not to strongly associate what they see on the screen with "real" triangles. The computer lets them blast demonic enemies or assume a different personality in a chat. Students these days are first accustomed to technology as fantasy entertainment, and don't seem as excited as I was to have the machines solve real problems.

(4) When I worked in IT, we had to beware when a vendor offered "a solution in search of a problem". As educators, we must tally the specific ways a technology can and does help: provoking insight, informing, organizing student work, adapting to diverse student capabilities, etc. Each of these virtues has an evil twin: distraction, confusion, frustration, inflexibility. Call me a curmudgeon, but I try to anticipate and note these as well.

I agree with the article, we should be replacing computers with slate chalkboards, boy those were the days.
I find it interesting that over the past years more "professionals" leave the integration of technology in their classroom up to someone else. I realize that as educators we have many demands on our time but we have to use the tools we have to increase student learning. When computers first came into my classroom twenty some years ago I didn't wait for someone from the district office to "train" me in its use, I looked for ways to do things on my own. Now I know the argument, "I stick to what works." I just know that I don't want my kids prepared for the world of 1970.
I have found many uses for technology in my classroom that draw students into a lesson like never before. To take a child that lives in a world of cell phones, gameboys, ipods, instant messaging, and other digital tools and put them in a desk with a pencil with the message that this is the way your parents learned is shortsighted.

It is important that we use technology wisely in the classroom. Students should see the relevance of what we do and teach, and we should teach with their future in mind. We can do this.
In my experience there is not enough technology being used in the core subjects in high school. The bulk of the technology is being used in elementary and enrichment subjects and electives.
The reasons for the lack of use are 2 in my opinion; lack of money for the technology itself, and lack of training of teachers in how to implement it.

We have a new high school where each room has an LCD projector suspended from the ceiling, connected to a computer and vcr/dvd player. More teachers are using powerpoint to introduce concepts, review for tests etc. It allows the teacher to create a lesson incorporating 1-5 minute videos or animations from the web instead of using traditional films. Teachers have more control of how they are teaching. But to be done right requires training and time. Neither of which is provided by the school.

I never had been interested in anything technological...I still don't know how to program a VCR to tape a show on TV....BUT in 1995, after 33 years of teaching various subjects at various grade levels, with multiple teacher certifications, K-12, my new principal at a middle school MADE me teach science,one of the few areas in which I was NOT certified. (The state gave me 2 years to complete science classes to obtain my certification.)
Worse, I had never even liked science, and the last science course I had taken was 30 years earlier! The program I was to teach was new to the district in TX where I was working. It was called "Science 2000" (Decision Development Corporation, San Ramon, CA). It was a computer-based, CD ROM, laser disc, overhead projector-based course; NO TEXTS, only some workbook pages. I was ready to transfer back to my previous school, but it was so many miles further from this new assignment, so i accepted the challenge! My principal said that she KNEW I could do it! At this point,literally, I did not even know how to turn on a computer or use a laser disc player. One of my colleagues, however, a science teacher from Pakistan, and one of my 8th grade students, taught me quickly the rudiments of computer use.
I had to go to school an hour earlier daily and stay late just to keep me a few weeks ahead of the kids. Although there was a Teacher Guide to the program, the same guide in the computer was color-coded and hyperlinked to sites which eased my work greatly!
I began to LOVE the course...the premises, the topics, the interlacing curriculum of the course turned me on! And even better, my students were turned on! I found myself LOVING science and learning even more than my students because I needed to investigate background information to answer their limitless questions.
When State (TX) academic exams were given in science, 92% of the 8th graders in my school passed the state 8th grade Science exam. It was the highest % in the entire city out of 8 middle schools.
Meanwhile, I had never taken science courses at the university that year for certification, figuring that after my two years were up, a social studies position would probably become vacant for me.
Surprise! Texas offers "Challenge Exams" for teachers. So I challenged the state exam for 6th-12th biology and earth science. In spring 1996,I passed both of them, receiving my state certification in two secondary/high school sciences! After one year of using and teaching "Science 2000", I had learned enough science to pass state exams. That has to speak highly to the program! I continued to teach Science 2000, a total of 6 years, with even higher test results for each year that TX tested 8th graders. I now am semi-retired, and have 5 jobs in Texas and Mexico as a teacher-decveloper in several areas, including ESL/blingual: English/Spanish.
Sad to say,most of my district's teachers did not as readily accept teaching with technology as I did, even though I helped set up groups to support the use of the technology program. They simply felt that "text books are easier to use." So three years ago, the district returned to traditional text books. State test scores in science in that district went down drastically. No one seems to see the correlation.
Meanwhile, I am sold on technology. I now personally own 4 computers including a lap top for travel. I travel often because the workshops I conduct are in various cities in various USA states, as well as in various states of Mexico.
I am 63 years old now, and still have stamina and enthusiasm for education! Without my newly acquired knowledge of technology, I would not be the person I am today...an example that old dogs CAN learn new tricks!
I have great thanks to my ex-principal, Suzette, who "knew I could do it",and for ex-student, David, and ex-colleague, Zaidi. Without their support, I never would have entered the 21st century!

I use technology because I had easy access before I came to this district. We had a computer lab and could network to other classrooms in the school and the district from our room. This was at least 7 years ago. Now (practically) I am limited to word processing and the internet on the 6 computers that I have. I am not able to buy and use software unless I donate it to the district and I can't just bring in software to use from time to time because they have limited access to the CD drive. All of this has been done to protect the system - but we are severely limited by the safe guards.

We had greater access at the other school because we could have the tech person help us set up events or on-going programs to be used in the lab. We scheduled ourselves into the lab and the tech person made sure that what we did was safe, system wise.

More schools need a plan to use, not just protect the computer network.

I understand and appreciate technology. Would someone articulate what 'adequate resources for training and time' actually look like? What percentage of a district budget should be allocated to reasonably ensure successfull implementation in the classroom? How are districts finding the revenue for this significant change?

I understand and appreciate technology. Would someone articulate what 'adequate resources for training and time' actually look like? What percentage of a district budget should be allocated to reasonably ensure successfull implementation in the classroom? How are districts finding the revenue for this significant change?

I partly agree with Mr. Warhaftig about "half-baked" implementation of technology. I don't think it's the technology itself that is the problem, but deciding what it's going to be used for, who is going to use it, and how (staff development).

However, I see the real disconnect comes at the intersection between the IT people who don't know curriculum making big decisions, teachers who are reluctant to try technology, school districts not allotting enough time and money for training, software vendors who trip over each other to get a new "educational" game into schools, businesses and parents who push for schools to run just like their own offices, and the school's curriculum and assessment that are still stuck in the 70's.

I agree that technology needs to be put back in its place and that the old fashioned tagboard presentation can be more effective than a flashy Power Point at showing what kids KNOW and UNDERSTAND about content. I think we need to demonstrate technology is just another tool, *sometimes* more effective than pencil and paper.

The solution? Getting representatives from all of these groups at the table to come up with a realistic vision of technology's place in the classroom. Of course, districts need to realize that spending time and money to do it the right way will save BIG bucks in the long run. Businesses and parents must realize that a schools can NOT run like a business. Teachers must take a risk at integrating technology despite the fact that their students likely know more about technology than they do. IT people need to realize that decisions must be based on what's best for students. Principals and administrators must allow for staff development based on best practices.

Yep, a HUGE feat to begin, but if not us, then who?

Computers is a good tool to use with slow students. I have had much success in a correctional school. The best way to teach with computers is to eliminate the games. Some of my students never had an opportunity to use the computers but for playing games or as a reward for finishing their assignments. I have had many students learn how to type ... as fast as 70 words per minutes helping them gain self-esteem and later on trying to work on all of the multiple subjects that are available for them. Math, Social Science, Language Arts, Music, Economics, Reading, writing and comprehension. A great tool. However, I think some of the teachers you are talking about are really afraid of the computers themselves or are not literate in computers and rather not use them then to say they themselves need training. I highly recommend the computers as learning tools.

Wil Cruz...[email protected]

Wow. Lots of opinions here. Yeah, I'd agree that implementation is half-baked. At best. Lots of people, differing goals and objectives, too many vendors with "the ONE ANSWER" to every problem that comes along, people afraid of technology, people too excited about technology, people too busy to understand it, and mounds of forms and accountability meetings taking up the valuable time and resources to use on training and development of staff and technology programs, not enough teachers with sound curriculum knowledge involved in the budget making decisions of IT departments.
Maybe we'll figure it out just in time to realize we've missed our opportunity.

It is impossible to impart to students today all the knowledge they need to know. It is, therefore, our primary responsibility as teachers to teach students how to learn. The use of technology fits into this calling very well. When students are taught to use the Internet wisely, they are capable of embarking on a search for knowledge that will last a lifetime.

Of course, technology is very good, and you can use it. I'm a Mexican teacher, and I'm not working this year. I worked in the American School in Puebla, and there we have all the information available from you, that is United State, and the Mexican one. I'm 68 years old, and I have been lucky to be able to have all these opportunities to ive it to the students. I was in what is called Secondary, in First and Second grades, and at the University, in the Language department that was created with a group of old teachers.

We were inmersed in every kind of programs that included technology, or inwhich we had to learn to use it. I don't know, and I don't think you did, have teachers that were prepared as we were. 25 years ago we started to study in the British programs to become English teachers, and 8 years ago, we started to get a Grade at the University. It has been very difficult for many of us, but also very gratifying.

The main problem we have found, as teacher of K12 is children attitude and lack of interest. When we are in the Multimedia room, we have to be behind them, all the time, checking for them not to get into other type of information. But also, as kids today, they are incredible wise and teach us a lot.

Thank you.

As a Math Coach I found it essential to expose our students to technology. Integrating technology with any subject will bring these subjects to life. Students are motivated when technology is implemented. Why are we depriving our students in becoming computer literate? When educator know that technology is an essential key element in become a productive individual.

The question is not why should we or if we should, but how can we use technology in our class. I've had situations from one computer to 8 computers in my elementary class. My students have used it to disect sheep brains step by step using video clips, creating original powerpoint timelines of changes in a topic they researched from paper sources, and yes even eduational games. With NCLB and more accountability to standard testing, I have to work harder to find real world applications of technology that do not take away time on task for objective based instruction. If we value technology skills we will adapt the curriculum to meaningful applications of technology that require the students to master tested objectives as well.

I am a parent of an 8th grader and a 10th grader. I am also a professional graphic designer and work in a home office. Consequently, our house has a total of 5 computers loaded with high tech software along with high speed internet. My children are both very adept at typing, creating documents and powerpoints and researching on the web. In the business world, everyone is expected to use technology - not as if it's some sort of admirable talent, but as if it is just another series of tools-same as a phone, calculator or car. Technology should be utilized in everyday learning, however, many teachers I come in contact with have very limited abilities and appear somewhat intimidated. The only way to really learn the technology is to jump in there and start using it! It's not going away, so let's accept that and move on.

I do like and use technology in my classes especially the computers and digital camera. I use an overhead also. (Is that technology?) but I am most frustrated by the upkeep, breakdowns and expense. I am fortunate to have about a doz. computers in my classroom, that are connected to the Internet. Some are very very slow, but I know some classes that have none. My students love to use them, just to browse and visit sites that they find interesting. As a teacher of students with cognitive disabilities, I feel that they are engaging in learning experiences through this media. I would like to use it more often and get better, but as I said before, the frustration when things go wrong and my not knowing how to troubleshoot that well, get to me. I will probably take more classes.

I use technology to present lessons as often as I am able to sign out the equipment and it seems important to the lesson.

There isn't enough money in schools to provide every teacher with the technology so it becomes a planning issue to determine when the equipment will be available.

My students use computer technology when it is going to be beneficial to the learning process for a learning objective. Students enjoy using computers to research information or simulate lab experiments that cannot be done in the classroom.

Using it all the time may not be efficient. Sometimes the traditional reading and writing methods are more effecient teaching and learning methods. The teacher is the professional practitioner and should be determining the effectiveness of each presentation and the tools that will be used as they plan daily lessons.

I use technology to present lessons as often as I am able to sign out the equipment and it seems important to the lesson.

There isn't enough money in schools to provide every teacher with the technology so it becomes a planning issue to determine when the equipment will be available.

My students use computer technology when it is going to be beneficial to the learning process for a learning objective. Students enjoy using computers to research information or simulate lab experiments that cannot be done in the classroom.

Using it all the time may not be efficient. Sometimes the traditional reading and writing methods are more efficient teaching and learning methods. The teacher is the professional practitioner and should be determining the effectiveness of each presentation and the tools that will be used as they plan daily lessons.

I think that technology is fantastic and very overwhelming because so much is demanded for the kids to know. But I think that we need to make sure that the kids are using technology for real world situations. I brought my fourth graders into the lab and I wanted them to type their essay. They were absolutely clueless on how they could do this. They knew how to shoot things on the computer and play games , but they knew very very little on word processing, which is a very important skill. Math games are fun every once in awhile, but they need typing, and information on how to research topics. They need to know power point.

Comments are now closed for this post.

Advertisement

Recent Comments

  • Julie O/ 4th grade: I think that technology is fantastic and very overwhelming because read more
  • Valerie Tundo/ Science Dept. Chair: I use technology to present lessons as often as I read more
  • Valerie Tundo/ Science Dept. Chair: I use technology to present lessons as often as I read more
  • Marlene Winn/Teacher Leader: I do like and use technology in my classes especially read more
  • Susan Heslup: I am a parent of an 8th grader and a read more

Archives

Categories

Technorati

Technorati search

» Blogs that link here

Tags

Pages