Technology and the Culture of Learning, 2004


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A PPT condensing an article on "Technology and the Culture of Learning" that discusses the dimensions and ramifications of technological change for schools, teaching, and learning.

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Technology and the Culture of Learning, 2004

  1. 1. TECHNOLOGY AND THE CULTURE OF LEARNING Peter Gow Independent Schools Forum November 10, 2004
  2. 2. In a survey of technology innovators, “Nobody cites technology as a tool for thinking better” -- Robert Buderi, editor of M.I.T. Technology Review
  3. 3. History’s scrap heap <ul><li>“ Cool tools” of yesteryear </li></ul><ul><li>Radio--”School of the Air” </li></ul><ul><li>The educational film-strip </li></ul><ul><li>The 16mm film </li></ul><ul><li>ThermoFax™ </li></ul><ul><li>The spirit master and its vaporous spawn </li></ul>
  4. 4. The Promise of Technology <ul><li>S’posed to mean </li></ul><ul><li>Less drudgery, more thinking </li></ul><ul><li>Less looking for ideas, more using them </li></ul><ul><li>More authentic work </li></ul>
  5. 5. Jeremiahs of today <ul><li>Jane M. Healy, Endangered Minds (1999): “Why Our Children Don’t Think” </li></ul><ul><li>Todd Oppenheimer, The Flickering Mind (2003): “The False Promise of Technology in the Classroom and How Learning Can Be Saved” </li></ul><ul><li>William Pflaum, The Technology Fix (2004), and Larry Cuban, Oversold and Underused (2001): Enough and good enough, but students spend too little time using it </li></ul>
  6. 6. 30 years of “high tech” <ul><li>Vast quantities of capital poured into technological infrastructure </li></ul><ul><li>Massive amounts of staff time and professional development money spent on technology training </li></ul><ul><li>“ Technology” (quantity) a measure of the quality of educational programs </li></ul><ul><li>The road to hell in some schools has been paved with interesting technology ideas </li></ul>
  7. 7. And remember this picture from your viewbook of 1992?
  8. 8. Schools that dragged their feet or hoped to wait out the “fad” did so at their peril Although they may have dodged the fatal attraction of an early commitment to a dead-end technology
  9. 9. Areas of Impact <ul><li>Products </li></ul><ul><li>Practices </li></ul><ul><li>Policies </li></ul>
  10. 10. Products <ul><li>Platforms (and “platform wars”) </li></ul><ul><li>Infrastructure </li></ul><ul><li>Software/hardware </li></ul><ul><li>Input and output devices </li></ul><ul><li>False leads and false alarms </li></ul>
  11. 11. Practices <ul><li>Tech plans </li></ul><ul><li>The “Tech Committee” </li></ul><ul><li>Staffing </li></ul><ul><li>Budgeting </li></ul><ul><li>Distribution and access </li></ul><ul><li>Professional development </li></ul><ul><li>Curriculum development </li></ul><ul><li>Curriculum mandates </li></ul>
  12. 12. Policies <ul><li>“Acceptable use”--active (what I create or transmit) and passive (what I use or receive) </li></ul><ul><li>Mandated use and proficiency standards </li></ul><ul><li>Addressing the “Digital Divide” </li></ul><ul><li>Rules and language to keep up with changes in technology </li></ul>
  13. 13. Three Premises How can we begin to analyze the total impact of technology on the landscape of education and the culture of schools?
  14. 14. And possibly a fourth: Educators tend to invest their thinking about change with moral value--a good/bad, as opposed to an effective/ineffective, frame of reference
  15. 15. PREMISE #1. In spite of our best efforts, technology has succeeded in breaching all barriers between schools and The World. Our little utopias want to control all the inputs, but technology has made this impossible
  16. 16. Responsibility at risk <ul><li>School just more dimension of a problematic external environment </li></ul><ul><li>Exploration of dark corners can expose students to risk and harm--but filtering can be seen as a free-speech infringement </li></ul><ul><li>The electronic curtain of chatrooms, blogs, IM, listservs, anonymous webpages, images </li></ul><ul><li>Technology makes cheating easier </li></ul><ul><li>Anonymity enables the denial of responsibility and the abrogation of empathy </li></ul>
  17. 17. Partnership stresses <ul><li>24/7 contact between children and families penetrates home-school barrier </li></ul><ul><li>Instant communication based on immediate reaction can stress school-family relationship </li></ul><ul><li>Assignments, gradebooks on line risk child’s independence as learner </li></ul><ul><li>Technology gives insecure parents means for playing out or fueling anxieties </li></ul>
  18. 18. Institutional downsides <ul><li>Users morally responsibility not just for self but also for responses of others </li></ul><ul><li>Even the best filters have loopholes </li></ul><ul><li>Risk management: continual updating of preventive stratagems </li></ul><ul><li>or give up </li></ul><ul><li>Schools more vigilant, more nervous </li></ul>
  19. 19. Educational Defense Industry <ul><li>To provide the illusion of being able to exclude moral threats or to track down and punish incursions </li></ul><ul><li>Firewalls </li></ul><ul><li>Air-tight acceptable use policies (AUPs) </li></ul><ul><li>Plagiarism tracking services </li></ul><ul><li>Content filters </li></ul><ul><li>Tracking and monitoring systems </li></ul>
  20. 20. But obvious benefits… <ul><li>As a tool for inquiry, research, and the processing of information </li></ul><ul><li>As a tool for communication and for improving the quality of communication and presentation </li></ul><ul><li>As a means to widen the audience for student work </li></ul><ul><li>As a powerful tool for record-keeping </li></ul>
  21. 21. PREMISE #2. By making many tasks much easier, technology has moved us toward taking on more of them We can generate, process, and disseminate ideas swiftly and efficiently, freeing us to think up more work to do
  22. 22. Wonders of the ed-tech world <ul><li>The calculator </li></ul><ul><li>Word processing </li></ul><ul><li>Google </li></ul><ul><li>PowerPoint </li></ul><ul><li>The spreadsheet </li></ul><ul><li>The database </li></ul><ul><li>E-mail </li></ul><ul><li>Digital video </li></ul><ul><li>The PDA </li></ul><ul><li>Interactive white boards (“Smartboards”) </li></ul>
  23. 23. Things to wonder about <ul><li>Have “labor-saving devices” given us the freedom to do more valuable work? </li></ul><ul><li>Are we doing better work with technology, or are we simply doing it, or doing more of it, because technology makes it possible? </li></ul><ul><li>Have we set higher standards of productivity and quality for our students’ work and for our own? </li></ul>
  24. 24. The Bartleby Syndrome <ul><li>The automation of familiar tasks is the most ubiquitous form of change experienced by educators and schools in recent years </li></ul><ul><li>Technology-based changes can drive teachers toward burn-out (Elizabeth Sky-McIlvain, “The Flickering Teacher” [2004]) </li></ul><ul><li>Too little purpose, too little time, too little support, and too little follow-through </li></ul><ul><li>Bartleby: the teacher who “would prefer not to” </li></ul>
  25. 25. PREMISE #3. Technology inevitably carries us along unseen pathways, and its protean nature makes it difficult to predict or control But we are obliged to attend to technology and its development in order to avoid expensive, or even fatal, errors
  26. 26. Who knew? <ul><li>That “atomic energy” would be a dead-end--and that fall-out shelters would be a national joke (sort of) </li></ul><ul><li>That the SAT would permit calculators </li></ul><ul><li>That your school’s computer purchases would move from being a capital to an operating expense </li></ul><ul><li>That programming would become only a byway in computer-related education </li></ul>
  27. 27. Who knows? <ul><li>What direction the evolution of the PC or personal communication devices will take </li></ul><ul><li>What evolving technologies far-removed from education will have to be in our classrooms within a decade </li></ul><ul><li>What the impact of genetic engineering will be on the very nature of our students </li></ul><ul><li>What nanotechnology, the looming energy crisis, and and the continuing war on terrorism will mean for education </li></ul>
  28. 28. So we’d better <ul><li>Not ignore the sidebars in Popular Science </li></ul><ul><li>Keep checking the “Japanese Schoolgirl Watch” in Wired magazine </li></ul><ul><li>Follow the serious science press </li></ul><ul><li>In other words, be the smartest techno bird dogs we can be </li></ul>
  29. 29. The Next Big Thing? <ul><li>Wireless everything--truly anytime, anyplace </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Will require infrastructure, new hardware </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Distance learning, as producers and consumers </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Will require vision, purpose, training </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The tablet, fully realized </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Will require buy-in from hardware and textbook producers </li></ul></ul>
  30. 30. More “next big things”? <ul><li>Datacasting </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ever larger chunks of data moved quickly through classroom networks </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Universal Design </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Disability/difference”-proof interfaces </li></ul></ul><ul><li>RFIDs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Track your stuff, your students </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Intelligent graders and analysis tools </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Reduce teacher time (and inventory?) </li></ul></ul>
  31. 31. Planning <ul><li>Build technology plans around GOALS and the CRITERIA for making decisions, not on the today’s known products, practices, and policies </li></ul><ul><li>See technology in the broadest terms, even beyond computers and communication </li></ul><ul><li>Keep the discussions broad and smart </li></ul>
  32. 32. Questions <ul><li>What’s the latest at your place? </li></ul><ul><li>What do you see around the corner? </li></ul><ul><li>What’s the hardest lesson you’ve learned--and have you paid attention to the lesson? </li></ul><ul><li>Planning and implementation--how are you proceeding? </li></ul>