This morning's news brings the exciting headlines Education Technology Isn't Helping, and Study: No benefit going high-tech for math and science, because of a new study released today by the US Department of Education.

Duh - this is old news, there has been decades of research showing that drilling kids does nothing, even if you pretty up it up with fancy names and graphics.

But our language for this stuff is so limited. The headlines SHOULD read, "Bad Educational Practice Proved Ineffective, Again!" But no, it gets called "educational software" or "educational technology", and immediately gets tied to EETT funding. It's an obvious conclusion, although the Washington Post gets it sort of right, Software's Benefits on Tests In Doubt: Study Says Tools Don't Raise....

OK, if I thought test scores mattered, I might care about that.

But here's what I care about.

Now, every time we talk about kids doing interesting stuff that involves a computer, we'll get hit with this. Podcasting, programming, blogging, collaboration, projects, kids making games, exploring virtual worlds, GIS, Google Earth? What are you thinking, haven't you heard? Educational Technology Doesn't Work.

Here's what's worse:
1. These publishers are getting off scot-free. Why is the USDOE not publishing the actual evaluation of the individual software products. Isn't this public information? This allows the publishers to hide behind the report and continue to claim that their individual studies are valid.

2. The apologists will shortly come out. "It's just bad implementation." "Teacher's need more support." This makes it better? C'mon, people, let's speak the truth and make meaningful distinctions between educational software that pretends to replace teachers and technology that gives students agency and supports a learning community.

Argh. I have to work harder.

Views: 535

Comment by David Wees on December 5, 2008 at 9:43pm
My suspicion is that someone realized how expensive it was going to be to equip all of the federally funded schools in the US with the proper infrastructure to support digital learning advances. I'm a bit of a cynic, but I'm beginning to believe that federal government research follows funding, rather than the other way around.
Comment by Antwon Lincoln on January 13, 2009 at 5:44am

I love your post. Where are you now after read the article? Have you or your site done anything differently since the publishing of the report? I am also concerned about the implementation of technology. It is another of Education Technology Dirty Little Secrets.
Comment by Joseph Ramanair on May 16, 2009 at 12:58am
It's amazing how most reports make such conclusions after studying elementary and secondary classes in 132 schools. The effectiveness of educational technology is a context specific argument. While it may not work in those 132 schools, it may work in another 250 schools! And, not everything (software, hardware etc) should work! Some aspects may work, while some just don't. It is more often the case that educational technology is used to replicate existing practises which naturally results in student achievement being no better in the high-tech classrooms than ones without the new products. It's bad when you pour old wine into new wine skins!
Comment by Kathleen Pepin on March 28, 2010 at 7:56am
When the powers that be judge effectiveness of any edu tool, they don't look at the fact that the kids still have to make choices, and they are often empowered from above to choose not to learn. In our school system, if a student passes by the end of third quarter, he can fail the fourth quarter and the final. So wasting 1/4 of the year is approved for those that make that choice. The up to date tech tools help put more interest out for these kids, but a number of them still will not put in the focus to learn.
When I first came to MD, the school I was in at the time had the philosophy that "the student has the right to fail". Ok if you mean you don't have to give him the passing grade if he doesn't earn it, but it was stretched to mean that if the kid is free to not do the work if he doesn't want to and you can't hold him accountable except for his grade, and then teachers were held accountable.

My language students where I am now overall do well, but there are always those who "don't need the credit" or the community college they're going to doesn't require them to pass language class. This all needs to be taken into account. I use a lot of technology, and you can't blame it on technology for those students who choose not to do work.
Comment by Dana on September 11, 2012 at 3:49pm

The writer of the article should have waited until the test results were released because the information was incomplete.  Making an article for millions to read should be 100% sure that all the information is accurate.  This is whats wrong with the media and for that matter the politics system which in my opinion is the problem like NLOWELL said.  


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