By: Eli Kannai
On September 3, The New York Times ran a front page article, “In Classroom of Future, Stagnant Scores,” by Matt Richtel. There was an instant reaction from the Jewish educators in the field and ISTE participants began posting on the AVI CHAI Educational Technology blog.
Mallory Rome was the first to respond in her post, “The NY Times Weighs In On Ed Tech”, stressing that the emphasis needs to remain on the learning goals. Dr. Allen Selis, head of School of the South Peninsula Hebrew Day School (SPHDS) in Sunnyvale, CA was next with “Why the digital classroom? A response to NYT: So just what IS the case for the digital classroom? (Part One)”. Selis rebuts a number of points from the article. He points out that technology is a supplement, not substitute to core programming, mentions the necessary skills set our children need and notes the importance of great teaching and curriculum. A more detailed response, confirming the importance of his school investment in educational technology, was promised.
Today he followed up with, “Why the Digital Classroom is Here to Stay, part two: It might not be the messiah, but it sure beats the competition…” and included four points:
1. Children brains have already experienced a technology focused shift
2. Today’s employment demands technological literacy
3. Advancements in technology have amplified global access and the possibilities
4. Educational technology is not a cure-all, there’s no such thing.
In a nutshell, we must prepare our children for the world that awaits them with the best possible available resources.
Aside from those appearing on the AVI CHAI Educational Technology blog there were many other responses including Cathy Davidson, author of “Now You See It” and one by Mark Warschauer, which Steve Jobs fans may like.
For those interested in more research, the best I have found to date is “Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning / A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies” by the U.S. Department of Education (revised September 2010).
I personally think Eileen Lento, from Intel, quoted in the NYT article has got it right: we should be happy with “same or a bit better” results. We know of all the other areas where using technology can help – namely gearing our students up for life in the 21st century. As the world gets more used to technology, and teachers learn how to best leverage it, I predict test scores will improve.
Eli Kannai is the Chief Educational Technology officer at The AVI CHAI Foundation.