"Schools pushed for tech in every classroom. Now parents are pushing back."
To finish 2019, our last blog will include a few interesting articles for those with a little extra time on their hands over the holidays.
In The Wall Street Journal, this first article looks at reasoning behind the push for technology in the classroom, and the more recent push back from teachers and parents:
"U.S. schools have made huge technology investments in the last 10 years, hoping to improve children's learning, retention in class, and future economic competitiveness—but now parents and educators question whether the effect of technology on education has been beneficial.
Researchers at Rand and elsewhere see no clear proof such deployments or strategies work in practice, even as parents demand evidence technology actually works as an educational tool, as well as limits.
A study by the University of Colorado at Boulder's National Education Policy Center concluded the rapid adoption of mostly proprietary technology in academia is riddled with "questionable educational assumptions...self-interested advocacy by the technology industry, serious threats to student privacy, and a lack of research support."
Supporters claim technology in schools is essential for ensuring students become responsible digital citizens, but parents and teachers are concerned technology and personalized education are asking too much of children, and ask schools to scale back such programs."
The study from the University of Colorado, referred to above, is also a great although lengthy read: 'Personalized learning and the digital privatisation of curriculum and teaching,' by professors Faith Boninger, Alex Molnar & Christopher Saldana. This recently published (double-blind peer-reviewed) research brief takes a deeper look into digital personalised learning programs.
Personalised learning is being promoted in New Zealand and around the world as one of the key components of a future-focussed education system, (Swan, 2017). Personalised learning can have many interpretations, but digital platforms and personalised learning software 'allowing children to work at their own level' are increasingly utilised, and used in marketing.
"College software allows parents to follow personalised education for pupils," (NZ Herald sponsored article, 2019).
Excerpt: "Personalized learning programs are proliferating in schools across the United States, fueled by philanthropic dollars, tech industry lobbying, marketing by third-party vendors, and a policy environment that provides little guidance and few constraints.
In this research brief, authors Faith Boninger, Alex Molnar, and Christopher M. Saldaña consider how we got to this point. Beginning with an examination of the history of personalized learning and the key assumptions made by its proponents, they review the research evidence and reflect on the roles and possible impacts of the digital technologies deployed by many programs."
"Despite many red flags, the pressure to adopt personalized learning continues to mount. The authors thus recommend that schools and policymakers pause in their efforts to promote and implement personalized learning until rigorous review, oversight, and enforcement mechanisms are established."
Purposeful and evidence-based use of technology in the classroom can offer learning opportunities above and beyond what can be achieved with pen and paper, and teaching specific ICT skills can help to develop knowledge and understanding of the ways digital technology can be used. For more ideas and resources, see: https://www.sensiblescreenuse.org/what-s-going-well
This last article is an example of the innovative use of technology to solve a problem; and maybe an interesting story to share with students: 'These gloves turn sign language into speech.'
These articles discuss some of the complex issues around using technology for learning - the great potential for educational opportunities, alongside disadvantages and research highlighting declines in achievement associated with high screen use, in particular areas of learning and for younger students (see https://www.sensiblescreenuse.org/best-outcomes). This is why at Sensible Screen Use, we are advocating for the evidence-based used of technology in the classroom.
"We want to draw focus to the skills and use of digital tools that will enhance children's learning and opportunities in an increasingly digital world, but at developmentally appropriate levels. We want to see thoughtful, purposeful and evidence-based use of technology in schools."
Meri Kirihimete and happy New Year to all, from Sensible Screen Use.