MyNotes: Why Ed Tech Is Not Transforming How Teachers Teach

MyNotes on Why Ed Tech Is Not Transforming How Teachers Teach:
    • Public schools now provide at least one computer for every five students.
    • They spend more than $3 billion per year on digital content.
    • And nearly three-fourths of high school students now say they regularly use a smartphone or tablet in the classroom.
    • The student-centered, hands-on, personalized instruction envisioned by ed-tech proponents remains the exception to the rule.
    • Case study after case study describe a common pattern inside schools: A handful of “early adopters” embrace innovative uses of new technology, while their colleagues make incremental or no changes to what they already do.
    • “If schools take all this technology, and use it like a textbook, or just have teachers show PowerPoint [presentations] or use drill-and-kill software, they might as well not even have it.
    • In the digital age, the ISTE standards say, teachers should be expected, among other strategies, to “engage students in exploring real-world issues and solving authentic problems using digital tools and resources.
    • ” They should also “develop technology-enriched learning environments that enable all students to become active participants in setting their own educational goals, managing their own learning, and assessing their own progress.
    • Research suggests that’s more or less the standard distribution of technology use in most schools nationwide.
    • The most authoritative national study on teacher technology use was conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics in 2009.
    • A survey of 3,159 teachers found that when teachers did allow students to use technology, it was most often to prepare written text (61 percent of respondents reported that their students did so “sometimes” or “often”) conduct Internet research (66 percent), or learn/practice basic skills (69 percent).
    • Far more rare were teachers who reported that their students sometimes or often used technology to conduct experiments (25 percent), create art or music (25 percent), design and produce a product (13 percent), or contribute to a blog or wiki (9 percent.)
    • Similar findings resulted from a 2010 study of 21 Texas middle schools by private researcher Kelly S.
    • The schools had been provided with abundant technology, including laptops for every student and teacher, wireless upgrades for schools, digital curricula and assessments, and professional development, paid for with $20 million in federal funds.
    • “In general, teachers at many schools seemed to view technology as a more valuable tool for themselves than for their students,” Ms.
    • One big issue: Many teachers lack an understanding of how educational technology works.
    • Researchers have found, for example, that even innovative teachers can be heavily affected by pressure to conform to more traditional instructional styles, with a teacher as the focal point for the classroom.
    • Newer teachers inclined to use technology in their classrooms can also be deterred by experienced teachers who feel differently.
    • And the current test-based accountability system isn’t exactly supporting the transition to student-centered, technology-driven instruction, said Ms.
    • One strategy that most researchers and experts seem to agree on: so-called “job-embedded” professional development that takes place consistently during the workday and is tied to specific classroom challenges that teachers actually face, rather than in the isolated sessions often preferred by district central offices and written into districts’ contracts with their teachers.
    • “When learning experiences are focused solely on the technology itself, with no specific connection to grade or content learning goals, teachers are unlikely to incorporate technology into their practices,” concluded Ms. Ertmer and Ms.
    • Ottenbreit-Leftwich, the researchers who wrote the 2010 paper on the factors influencing teachers’ use of educational technology.
    • “The smarter districts use those teachers to teach other teachers how to integrate tech into their lessons,” Mr. Cuban said.

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