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Argument: Critiques of the education and technology debate proposition

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The benefits or costs of technology in education depend on the circumstances; there is no value in determining an overall benefit or cost

  • Economist Debate Series. jnov. October 20, 2007 - "The use of research by both Sir Daniel and Dr. Kozma show that this issue is not answerable by anything other than a "it depends on circumstances." Sir Daniel directs us to research showing white-boards do not benefit secondary school student's learning. "Dr. Kozma directs us to research which shows "clear" results that student learning is enhanced by technology. I have worked in a special education classroom where our students suffered from Autism, Downs Syndrome and a number of other mental and physical challenges. We used technology to allow repetitive instruction without human variation for basic skills. We also used adaptive technologies to allow our students to participate in the world around them in ways they otherwise would not be able to do, such as using a "talking machine" to help them order food at a restaurant when their verbal skills would not allow them to do so on their own. Technology was very useful in that classroom. However, it was used for a very small part of our day. Most of the work done in our classroom was on a person-to-person level because it was the human interaction that "taught" our students how to participate in the world as fully as possible. My children are lucky enough to go to a highly competitive international school. This school uses technology extensively. It's goal is to have a laptop for every student within the next five years. A system has been set up so all homework is accessible from home via the computer (using Blackboard) and the teacher can link documents or create classroom conversations via this program. The 4th and 5th graders create many Powerpoint presentations over the course of the year. Yet as advanced as this school is in the use of technology, what do most of those students use those laptops for? Viewing their Facebook and MySpace accounts during their breaks and at lunchtime. Occasionally, one of my children has to go online to research some topic over the internet. But most of the instruction going on in the classroom is still done through direct teacher/student interaction. And this is a very wealthy school. What about the schools that are not wealthy? (Which are far greater in number than the wealthy schools.) Schools that can not hire high quality teachers because of poor working conditions and lack of a living wage; high quality teachers that would know how to use technology in the classroom to enhance their instruction. Schools that are in countries that do not have the infrastructure to support technology? Schools where most of the teacher's time is spent dealing with discipline issues, with very little time left over for instruction of any kind? How is technology CURRENTLY helping the students learn better or more? Citing one or two success stories, as Dr. Kozma has, is encouraging but hardly persuasive. As he states, "KF is being used in hundreds of classes...." Wonderful. Now what about the thousands (dare I say millions) of other classes out there?! Last example. I have a friend who is currently working on her Masters of Librarian Science – through an online course. She does all her work from home, allowing her to continue to care for her children and make dinner every night as she continues her education and increases her job opportunities and potential wage level. It all depends on circumstances!"

Not a pro/con black/white debate

Outmoded teaching paradigms are the real issue, not technology

  • Economist Debate Series: Education. IL Tech Educator. October 18, 2007 - "Echoing the sentiments of many contributors, I find that technology isn't the issue, rather, it's the outmoded teaching paradigm that we, at least in America, have been using for the past century. At issue isn't what technology has to offer, but how it is implemented. Other educators I meet can't seem to think beyond the immediate benefits of technological productivity. However, this is hardly the fault of innovation, rather I propose education systems fail because people still believe in the "one-size-fits-all" approach to teaching. People, in my experience, learn better when they are involved in the process rather than restricted by a curriculum which school districts enforce because they can't see past the next fiscal year. This is precisely where Technology has the ability to excel. Using computer systems to creatively demonstrate new methodology and ways of solving problems offer students a broader base of knowledge and experience to draw from. Tutorials, and typing exercises, and other methods described in the arguments do nothing to promote real learning. I believe that only by focusing on creativity and self-expression will students truly be able to find themselves and shuck the chains of the past. I urge you to visit these websites:

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