Hello Classmates,

There's a Commentary in the May 2 issue of Education Week: "Technology Can Transform Schools." (http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2007/05/02/35kelly.h26.html) Note the end section: "TalkBack."

You can voice your opinion.

I hope someone from our network does, because reading that article makes me very, very tired--the policy makers need so much educating.

It's a topsy-turvy world. We, really, should be the ones making policy. Our enlivened network could give numerous examples of the power of this new technological learning. Not just in "...the effectiveness of reading and math software products," but more broadly yet. We'd be eager to reflect carefully upon the nuances of what would make good educational policy. The debates would be lively and heartfelt. We'd have a multifaceted perspective, rich with resource investigation and use. We'd have experience in thinking together within a focused and professional educational network.

That talk, on my part, is pure idealism. But I do believe it--I mean it.

When I read an article like this one from Education Week and consider doing the "TalkBack," I don't even know where to start.

Apparently, "...extensive research, development, and testing (are) needed to use that hardware effectively." Test it? Test what? How would that be done? Use the hardware effectively? That's infinitesimal compared to what else is going on. Why talk about software packages to teach particular skills when there's an utterly new approach to the "whole of education" going on?

It's hard not to get discouraged. Sometimes I think American Education is not even nearing the launch pad. And yet, Education Week is a very important news magazine. This article is not to be discounted... there's a testing of the waters going on. And there's a place for us to talk. If the question is, "What is the use of these machines, anyhow?" shouldn't we answer? But how can it be said?

I am speechless. I need more patience. How in the world should one begin?

The author (Henry Kelly) deserves credit for taking an ice-pick to the mountain.

I double-dog dare someone to explain how the tests can never catch up, and that that shouldn't even be the emphasis. The power is far beyond that... (For people of other languages, do you know what "double-dog dare" means? It means if you do, I will.)

An awakening is due.

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I thought his article did an excellent job of analyzing some of the weak points of the study.

Many of the articles I've seen about it just gloss over those points and the study's limitations.

And I agree with his point that spending that much money and not study teachers who have had training or experience with the technology tools is rather bogus.

We do have a long way to go, and studies like this one do not really advance the conversation much at all.

There is a world of difference between "technology" uses that convey out to the careers of our students and "technology" that is drill and practice.
You have terrific ideas for an activist, proactive approach. The Federation of American Scientists might indeed be allies, as could many others of a forward-thinking and informed perspective. How might ordinary people like us (well, that is, like me) promote studies that lead to a "compelling conclusion" such as you envision?
Thanks for your illuminating comments!
Hi Carolyn,
Yes, there is such a significant difference between those technologies that it's difficult to even begin convey what it's all about. I feel that somehow we have to make a try. Potential policy makers are talking about computers and "hardware," and programs for very basic, often traditional and completely pre-defined skills. (Make 'em test better.) The real stuff is so much greater, this Web 2.0 work, but how does that get conveyed?
Really excellent kids' work might provide some of the opening--
Or providing an example of an educators' network, such as this.
Maybe we could have policy makers attend a Will Richardson talk?
Maybe get the video (available on YouTube)"The Machine is Us/ing Us" circulating more? Or is that too profound?!
Thanks for your comment.
Those are good questions. I think Will Richardson has a point when he's talked about getting more articles published in print sources, because that might be more likely to be part of the mainstream conversation. I think we need to speak at administrative conferences, and education conferences that aren't "about" technology. I think your idea of highlighting and sharing student work is a great one.

There is a lot of resistance outside of schools, but there is also a lot of resistance within schools as well.

I also think enlisting resources like Thomas Friedman, Daniel Pink, and many others is important too.

The administration is all about measurement and accountability. How do the things we think are important fit into that model, which to me seems quite limiting?

You are right there are many places for work to be done.
I like what Skip has to say about the article. I went and read the article and I think that it says what I have been trying to say in some of my blog posts. We should take the best practices from the past and combine them with current and future practices to give our students the best possible instruction. Lecturing is still needed, face to face interactions and praise is needed, but we can also utilize Web 2.0 technologies to advance learning.

Web 2.0 isn't the one and only way to teach. However, it does seem to excite my students. I have students that sit in my class and never participate until I pull out my MP3 player/recorder and then I can't keep their hands down. They want to hear their voice on audio. Imagine that!

Does testing measure student interest in subject matter? Of course not! Moreover, I find the stats less than significant because they gave this software to teachers that hadn't been using the technology. Maybe, these guys should go back to college and take a test and measurements class. I have been using technology for a number of years, but I just got on the Classroom 2.0 school bus this year. As such, I am still trying to find the best way to use this technology with my students. Nevertheless, the more I dig, the closer I come to finding GOLD!

Thanks for sharing...

William Bishop (Bill)



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