Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Inevitable.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: technology in the classroom is an ineviability. Teachers, parents and administrators may hate it, but the fact of the matter is that technology is sweeping through the lives of children in such a way that they are insisting on using it to advance their educations. The Millenials have grown up with it, and incorporate it into their daily lives. My five year old has her own computer. She's hardly obsessed by it. She does many of the things a five year old did forty years ago: play with dolls, dress up, and ride bikes. But she also plays Headsprout, and Math Games, and this morning, when her American Girl doll's glasses broke, she suggested we go online to find out how to repair them. The Internet is the first resouce for information she thinks of.

Or doesn't think of. Computers and the Internet are natural for her. And that makes it inevitable that she will want it in her classroom. Like Kindergarteners around the country, she is learning to write with pencil and paper. But at some point she will want to learn to write like Papi does--with a machine. And you're not going to be able to tell her she can't.
There are a lot of players in education that are simply out of position in this revolution. Schools of education, who continue to train teachers like it's 1969. They should be setting up labs and distributing usability software to homes and teaching interactive content design. But teachers are graduating with minimal knowledge of how to incorporate technology into education. And they will inevitably be replaced by instructional technologists. Teacher's Unions are out of position because they are playing defense on outdated skills. The worst are educational publishers, whose bottom-lines are so padded by textbook sales that they cannot adopt the approaches necessary to sell good, effective technology to schools.
Look, I'm not a technological Utopian. I think it would be a very BAD thing for education to switch over to technology based education, and just teach multimedia production and not mathematics. Having taught for eight years, I understand the value of direct instruction and social participation in education. But we are living in a rapidly changing world. Computers have utterly transformed the Office in the last 25 years. There are few stenographers, file clerks, mimeo machines and carbon paper left in the Office. That's a good thing. The same sort of transformation is due Education.

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