A little behind on posting news articles... Fast Company seems to have an "education-related" article each week. The latest is a comparison of two opinions on why technology does or doesn't work in the classroom: http://blog.fastcompany.com/archives/2007/11/09/education_technology_academic_godsend_or_demon.html?partner=rss
Reading this, I realize I need to formulate my opinion on the use of technology in the classroom in a very concise manner. Of course, I'm that middle-of-the-road person who's not an early adopter of technology, nor am I lagging way behind.
Frankly, I let other people test it out first, and if it's just a cool gadget, I skip it. I still don't have an iPod, because it doesn't meet my goals: Gimme music, now. No, instead, I'd have to either rip all my CD's or buy mp3's, load them onto the iPod and spend time I don't have creating play lists. Instead, I have XM Radio. I plugged the thing in, and turned it on. Music.
So, if a technology is presenting too many problems in functioning, I'll ditch it. That's why it's wise for many schools to choose Macintosh computers over Windows-based computers... the Windows technology is still buggy, and gets in the way. Heck, even in Corporate America, how many times have we been in meetings that get delayed because the network connection "broke," or the PowerPoint presentation was too large to open on the conference room computer?
There's a definite science to working out the kinks in any technology before launching it in the classroom. And that's just the logistics. The bigger question is one that was raised by calculators 30 years ago: Is the process of learning any different by adding technology to the mix? I think it can accelerate learning by condensing the amount of time students handle known facts and processes, creating more time for critical thinking, comparison and experimentation. You know... the time when that magic happens.
Yes, technology in the classroom. Yes, testing before launching. Yes, being selective about which technologies to use.
No, technology itself does not raise test scores. A laptop cannot teach without someone to at least write a program that the student can run. ;-)