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EdTech Update




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When tech is a cheap substitute

The 1990 Technology & Learning article above tries to predict the future of educational technology. One memorable call-out was this one by Tom Snyder:

Hmmm, the poor kids will have computers and the rich kids will have human teachers?

The mirror image of most educational technology history.

Yet nearly all of the predictions in this T&L article have come true. Granted it's taken significantly longer to get "dynabooks" in kids hands and computers in watches than the experts predicted, but all-in-all the article was spot on.

I think of Snyder's prediction above quite often when exploring the relationship of cultural proficiency and technology. While most often, I see technology as a great equalizer (See The Culturally Proficient Technologist in Ed Leadership), I also recognize that technology can exacerbate inequities in opportunity as well - as Mr. Snyder so eloquently states.

When I read educational technology scold, cynic, and watchdog Audrey Watters's blog post "Virtual Field Trips and Education (Technology) Inequities", it brought me back to Snyder's prediction.

But let's be honest: virtual field trips are not field trips. Oh sure, they might provide educational content. They might, as Google’s newly unveiled “Expeditions” cardboard VR tool promises, boast "360° photo spheres, 3D images and video, ambient sounds -- annotated with details, points of interest and questions that make them easy to integrate into curriculum already used in schools." But virtual field trips do not offer physical context; they do not offer social context. Despite invoking the adjective “immersive,” they most definitely are not.

As I see more and more "tier 2" and "tier 3" interventions becoming digital, it's pretty easy to detect how some kids will be receiving instruction via technology while other kids get human teachers. In the long run silicon is cheap; people are expensive. Putting kids in front of computer screens in lieu of putting them with human, caring, and skillful "warmware" is a tragedy.

Check it out - who gets the most access to tech in your school - parked in front of programmed learning activities - and who gets one-on-one with a real teacher? 

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Reader Comments (1)

We are planning a sophomore trip to a safari-type reserve that has hundreds of animals from all over the world. Open side vans drive through the reserve, and the animals feel safe enough to come to the vehicle and eat the treats provided.

There is a huge difference between seeing a giraffe in a movie or video and having that same giraffe, all fifteen feet of if, eat out of your hand...

June 9, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKenn Gorman

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