Technology and the Culture of Learning, 2004

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Published on November 23, 2008

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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.

TECHNOLOGY AND THE CULTURE OF LEARNING Peter Gow Independent Schools Forum November 10, 2004

In a survey of technology innovators, “Nobody cites technology as a tool for thinking better” -- Robert Buderi, editor of M.I.T. Technology Review

History’s scrap heap “ Cool tools” of yesteryear Radio--”School of the Air” The educational film-strip The 16mm film ThermoFax™ The spirit master and its vaporous spawn

“ Cool tools” of yesteryear

Radio--”School of the Air”

The educational film-strip

The 16mm film

ThermoFax™

The spirit master and its vaporous spawn

The Promise of Technology S’posed to mean Less drudgery, more thinking Less looking for ideas, more using them More authentic work

S’posed to mean

Less drudgery, more thinking

Less looking for ideas, more using them

More authentic work

Jeremiahs of today Jane M. Healy, Endangered Minds (1999): “Why Our Children Don’t Think” Todd Oppenheimer, The Flickering Mind (2003): “The False Promise of Technology in the Classroom and How Learning Can Be Saved” 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

Jane M. Healy, Endangered Minds (1999): “Why Our Children Don’t Think”

Todd Oppenheimer, The Flickering Mind (2003): “The False Promise of Technology in the Classroom and How Learning Can Be Saved”

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

30 years of “high tech” Vast quantities of capital poured into technological infrastructure Massive amounts of staff time and professional development money spent on technology training “ Technology” (quantity) a measure of the quality of educational programs The road to hell in some schools has been paved with interesting technology ideas

Vast quantities of capital poured into technological infrastructure

Massive amounts of staff time and professional development money spent on technology training

“ Technology” (quantity) a measure of the quality of educational programs

The road to hell in some schools has been paved with interesting technology ideas

And remember this picture from your viewbook of 1992?

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

Areas of Impact Products Practices Policies

Products

Practices

Policies

Products Platforms (and “platform wars”) Infrastructure Software/hardware Input and output devices False leads and false alarms

Platforms (and “platform wars”)

Infrastructure

Software/hardware

Input and output devices

False leads and false alarms

Practices Tech plans The “Tech Committee” Staffing Budgeting Distribution and access Professional development Curriculum development Curriculum mandates

Tech plans

The “Tech Committee”

Staffing

Budgeting

Distribution and access

Professional development

Curriculum development

Curriculum mandates

Policies “Acceptable use”--active (what I create or transmit) and passive (what I use or receive) Mandated use and proficiency standards Addressing the “Digital Divide” Rules and language to keep up with changes in technology

“Acceptable use”--active (what I create or transmit) and passive (what I use or receive)

Mandated use and proficiency standards

Addressing the “Digital Divide”

Rules and language to keep up with changes in technology

Three Premises How can we begin to analyze the total impact of technology on the landscape of education and the culture of schools?

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

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

Responsibility at risk School just more dimension of a problematic external environment Exploration of dark corners can expose students to risk and harm--but filtering can be seen as a free-speech infringement The electronic curtain of chatrooms, blogs, IM, listservs, anonymous webpages, images Technology makes cheating easier Anonymity enables the denial of responsibility and the abrogation of empathy

School just more dimension of a problematic external environment

Exploration of dark corners can expose students to risk and harm--but filtering can be seen as a free-speech infringement

The electronic curtain of chatrooms, blogs, IM, listservs, anonymous webpages, images

Technology makes cheating easier

Anonymity enables the denial of responsibility and the abrogation of empathy

Partnership stresses 24/7 contact between children and families penetrates home-school barrier Instant communication based on immediate reaction can stress school-family relationship Assignments, gradebooks on line risk child’s independence as learner Technology gives insecure parents means for playing out or fueling anxieties

24/7 contact between children and families penetrates home-school barrier

Instant communication based on immediate reaction can stress school-family relationship

Assignments, gradebooks on line risk child’s independence as learner

Technology gives insecure parents means for playing out or fueling anxieties

Institutional downsides Users morally responsibility not just for self but also for responses of others Even the best filters have loopholes Risk management: continual updating of preventive stratagems or give up Schools more vigilant, more nervous

Users morally responsibility not just for self but also for responses of others

Even the best filters have loopholes

Risk management: continual updating of preventive stratagems

or give up

Schools more vigilant, more nervous

Educational Defense Industry To provide the illusion of being able to exclude moral threats or to track down and punish incursions Firewalls Air-tight acceptable use policies (AUPs) Plagiarism tracking services Content filters Tracking and monitoring systems

To provide the illusion of being able to exclude moral threats or to track down and punish incursions

Firewalls

Air-tight acceptable use policies (AUPs)

Plagiarism tracking services

Content filters

Tracking and monitoring systems

But obvious benefits… As a tool for inquiry, research, and the processing of information As a tool for communication and for improving the quality of communication and presentation As a means to widen the audience for student work As a powerful tool for record-keeping

As a tool for inquiry, research, and the processing of information

As a tool for communication and for improving the quality of communication and presentation

As a means to widen the audience for student work

As a powerful tool for record-keeping

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

Wonders of the ed-tech world The calculator Word processing Google PowerPoint The spreadsheet The database E-mail Digital video The PDA Interactive white boards (“Smartboards”)

The calculator

Word processing

Google

PowerPoint

The spreadsheet

The database

E-mail

Digital video

The PDA

Interactive white boards (“Smartboards”)

Things to wonder about Have “labor-saving devices” given us the freedom to do more valuable work? Are we doing better work with technology, or are we simply doing it, or doing more of it, because technology makes it possible? Have we set higher standards of productivity and quality for our students’ work and for our own?

Have “labor-saving devices” given us the freedom to do more valuable work?

Are we doing better work with technology, or are we simply doing it, or doing more of it, because technology makes it possible?

Have we set higher standards of productivity and quality for our students’ work and for our own?

The Bartleby Syndrome The automation of familiar tasks is the most ubiquitous form of change experienced by educators and schools in recent years Technology-based changes can drive teachers toward burn-out (Elizabeth Sky-McIlvain, “The Flickering Teacher” [2004]) Too little purpose, too little time, too little support, and too little follow-through Bartleby: the teacher who “would prefer not to”

The automation of familiar tasks is the most ubiquitous form of change experienced by educators and schools in recent years

Technology-based changes can drive teachers toward burn-out (Elizabeth Sky-McIlvain, “The Flickering Teacher” [2004])

Too little purpose, too little time, too little support, and too little follow-through

Bartleby: the teacher who “would prefer not to”

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

Who knew? That “atomic energy” would be a dead-end--and that fall-out shelters would be a national joke (sort of) That the SAT would permit calculators That your school’s computer purchases would move from being a capital to an operating expense That programming would become only a byway in computer-related education

That “atomic energy” would be a dead-end--and that fall-out shelters would be a national joke (sort of)

That the SAT would permit calculators

That your school’s computer purchases would move from being a capital to an operating expense

That programming would become only a byway in computer-related education

Who knows? What direction the evolution of the PC or personal communication devices will take What evolving technologies far-removed from education will have to be in our classrooms within a decade What the impact of genetic engineering will be on the very nature of our students What nanotechnology, the looming energy crisis, and and the continuing war on terrorism will mean for education

What direction the evolution of the PC or personal communication devices will take

What evolving technologies far-removed from education will have to be in our classrooms within a decade

What the impact of genetic engineering will be on the very nature of our students

What nanotechnology, the looming energy crisis, and and the continuing war on terrorism will mean for education

So we’d better Not ignore the sidebars in Popular Science Keep checking the “Japanese Schoolgirl Watch” in Wired magazine Follow the serious science press In other words, be the smartest techno bird dogs we can be

Not ignore the sidebars in Popular Science

Keep checking the “Japanese Schoolgirl Watch” in Wired magazine

Follow the serious science press

In other words, be the smartest techno bird dogs we can be

The Next Big Thing? Wireless everything--truly anytime, anyplace Will require infrastructure, new hardware Distance learning, as producers and consumers Will require vision, purpose, training The tablet, fully realized Will require buy-in from hardware and textbook producers

Wireless everything--truly anytime, anyplace

Will require infrastructure, new hardware

Distance learning, as producers and consumers

Will require vision, purpose, training

The tablet, fully realized

Will require buy-in from hardware and textbook producers

More “next big things”? Datacasting Ever larger chunks of data moved quickly through classroom networks Universal Design “ Disability/difference”-proof interfaces RFIDs Track your stuff, your students Intelligent graders and analysis tools Reduce teacher time (and inventory?)

Datacasting

Ever larger chunks of data moved quickly through classroom networks

Universal Design

“ Disability/difference”-proof interfaces

RFIDs

Track your stuff, your students

Intelligent graders and analysis tools

Reduce teacher time (and inventory?)

Planning Build technology plans around GOALS and the CRITERIA for making decisions, not on the today’s known products, practices, and policies See technology in the broadest terms, even beyond computers and communication Keep the discussions broad and smart

Build technology plans around GOALS and the CRITERIA for making decisions, not on the today’s known products, practices, and policies

See technology in the broadest terms, even beyond computers and communication

Keep the discussions broad and smart

Questions What’s the latest at your place? What do you see around the corner? What’s the hardest lesson you’ve learned--and have you paid attention to the lesson? Planning and implementation--how are you proceeding?

What’s the latest at your place?

What do you see around the corner?

What’s the hardest lesson you’ve learned--and have you paid attention to the lesson?

Planning and implementation--how are you proceeding?

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