Are 1:1 tech initiatives the wrong kind of reform?

Short Answer: I believe any reform focused on technology rather than teaching & learning will end in the status quo, but I believe 1:1 initiatives may be uniquely problematic.

Whenever I start writing these kinds of posts, I am leery.  I know that many of the probable readers might reject what I have to say a priori.  In all honesty, I then think about how many subscribers I will lose (I don’t have very many to begin with – not compared to Scott McLeod stats!).  I also think about all the well-meaning and enthusiastic professionals out there who see technology as an avenue to education reform, and I don’t want to dim their lights or keep them from pursuing what they believe is best for kids.  Yet, I earnestly believe dissenting opinions are so very important.  All I can do is share my perspective and thoughts in hopes of contributing to the work in progress that is education.

1:1 technology initiatives are becoming very popular in my state.  As a teacher, I would have loved teaching in a 1:1 school.  I am well aware that high quality learning environments can be achieved in the presence of ubiquitous technology, but I also know that technology is not necessary. In many ways my classroom was 1:1 because the school laptop cart was in my room 3-4 days out of every week.  Yet, upon continued reflection, I become more and more skeptical that 1:1’s are the way to go.

Ira Socol explains how buying the same of anything for all students likely leaves two-thirds of the students uncomfortable.  He includes electronic technology as well as chairs, pencils, desks, and books.  He further expands this view into learning experiences.  That is, students should have access to multiple representations, multiple ways to access information, and multiple ways to demonstrate understanding.  While 1:1 might provide some avenue to Ira’s latter goals, most all 1:1 initiatives buy the same device for all kids – fundamentally reinforcing the premise that all kids are the same.  Some might say, I’m drawing too fine a line in the sand.  Yet, our decisions reflect our deeply held beliefs, and send a very strong message to kids about learning.

In a discussion I had with Russ Goerend several weeks ago, he noted that he and I are both 4:1.  The rhetoric of 1:1 often focuses on the “real world”.  Unfortunately, 1:1 is not real world.  As more and more computing becomes cloud based, having one machine is less and less common.  Instead, Russ had the idea to have access to multiple devices in schools – laptops, netbooks, desktops, ipods, ipod touches, etc.  Then students can learn how to pick the best tool for the job.  Furthermore, students learn how to harness cloud computing so that they can access content and create from multiple devices.  Lastly, our conversation noted how cell phones and other mobile platforms have invaded adults’ free time.  That is, as access to email and other work oriented apps have become mobile, people haven’t worked less, they’ve actually worked more.  Why would we want to contribute to the disappearance of childhood by asking our students to take up the same yoke.

Finally, technology is not teaching.  Frank Noschese sent out a tweet that provides two videos of mathematics instruction.  One is without digital technology, the second is with 1:1 iPads.  Unfortunately, the iPad class is the epitome of traditional instruction.  The iPads serve as electronic textbooks from which students copy and complete problems individually.  The non-digital tech class is collaborative, reflective, and dynamic.  My point here is that 1:1 is not, by itself, reform.

True reform only happens if the underlying beliefs that guide instruction are changed.  Reform only happens when the actions of teachers and students are modified.  Simply adding technology does nothing to change philosophy or the roles of teachers and students.  If the roles of teachers and students remain the same, how can we possibly claim reform?

I am well aware that some of you will claim that we can implement technology and focus on teaching and learning.  I agree.  However, the focus of our headlines and our dialogue is concentrated on the technology.  If you really believe the technology is second fiddle to improved teaching and learning, stop talking about the technology.

In summary, at best, 1:1 technology initiatives are simply not reform.  That is, they just maintain the status quo with a new medium.  At worst, the initiatives serve to undermine reform by treating all kids as the same and placing them in inauthentic learning environments while convincing us that we have achieved reform.

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24 Responses to Are 1:1 tech initiatives the wrong kind of reform?

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jerrid Kruse, Andy Crozier, limbert65, Dr Daniel L Frazier, Anthony Lohse and others. Anthony Lohse said: Worth the read – I agree with most of it @acrozier22 @jerridkruse Are 1:1 tech initiatives the wrong kind of reform? http://t.co/7mym5Lv . [...]

  2. Ira Socol says:

    I like the “4:1″ idea. I really think that we need to let kids learn to pick the tool for the task, and if we hand them all MacBook Pros or iPads or single-image Netbooks or whatever, and they are all the same, we’re just sticking with the one-size-fits-all attitude of the Gutenberg Era.

    Honestly, most 1:1 initiatives turn out pretty badly. Which is a shame. It is hard to believe, but I see many a Middle School making these devices as boring as the classrooms were before.

  3. :) Jerrid, I agree with what you are saying (for the most part). My problem with your post, is that you are talking about reforming education. If we continue to attempt to “reform” education, all the changes we make will morph back into what education has always been. A system designed to make everyone the same. I think we need more of a transformation in design. There are many flaws in the system. 1:1 initiatives in itself will not challenge the status quo. Nor will the 4:1 that you and Russ talked about. How is using an ipad, iPod, netbook or Macbook for the task any different than a student choosing to use a pencil, pen, or marker? The idea is we need to provide tools for students to collaborate, create, and learn in a digital world. The current 1:1s are further ahead in most cases than schools that do not have that type of access. You know where I stand, but some of your readers may not. I hope some of you read this post about the status quo http://derondurflinger.blogspot.com/2010/09/what-are-you-doing-to-threaten-status.html

    • jerridkruse says:

      I agree that the 4:1 would likely also maintain status quo. I believe most reform efforts will maintain status quo as you do. If we don’t look at the fundamental belief system guiding decision making, any “innovation” will likely just be more of the same.

      You’re note about giving kids tools to learn & collaborate in a digital world may be too narrow. This is something tech initiatives also do, they devalue “non-digital” learning. If we really are going to re-do this education thing, I dont think we should limit selves to digital. That is mistake prior educators made with textbooks.

    • jerridkruse says:

      Oh, one more point. If we limit definition of learning to digital, then maybe 1:1’s are ahead, but if we look at kinds of thinking students are doing, 1:1’s are on same page as every other school. That’s is, they have some teachers doing great things, & others…not so much.

    • Russ Goerend says:

      The idea is we need to provide tools for students to collaborate, create, and learn in a digital world.

      I’m not sure “providing tools” is the goal. Having that as goal is what leads us to holding 1:1 up as a solution.

      Students need to collaborate, create, and learn. And lead and serve and other stuff, but it goes deeper than us providing opportunities or tools. It’s bigger than a digital world. It’s the world. The whole thing. And while the part that has been missing is the digital part, the solution doesn’t come from going all digital. It comes from going all in on students and learning. And I know that’s where your heart is, Deron. That’s why I have so much respect for you.

  4. The problem with this discussion is most schools can’t even afford 1:1. The reality is tools are not even discussed in most schools, test scores are. A 1:1 school can succeed or fail for the same reason a school with a decrepit lab can succeed or fail. I guess what I am trying to say is don’t blame the tools, blame the school climate and the teachers lack of focus.

    My take is any tools that can allow conversations to take place between two parties are valuable. The problem is we don’t use our tools to facilitate conversations. Beliefs change and learning takes place through our social relationships and we need to leverage tools to make it happen.

    • jerridkruse says:

      I am not blaming the tool, I’m trying to point out how little power the tools have.

      Why do we need to leverage tools to begin discussions? Walk up to another teacher & ask if you can observe their class during your prep period-now that will start some conversations!

      • Conversations we can have in the classroom, school, and community are limited by our a lot of factors. There is no need for any tools if we only have conversations locally. My head is/has been stuck on the global community (probably because I don’t have a mandated curriculum for my classes and can afford to think that way). Without tools there is no way to communicate globally.

        If you are thinking locally, you are absolutely right about the limit of power the tools have. If you are thinking globally, they have all the power. The problem is we don’t use them correctly (and that we have limited access to them). If we don’t use them correctly, we don’t really need them anyway.

        See, my head is stuck on this global sharing/communication thing.

  5. [...] They mirror the voices and opinions of hundreds of students I have interviewed reminding us that it is NOT a technology thing; its a learning [...]

  6. Geoff Kruse says:

    Technology itself is not reform and that is the problem most teachers (including myself at first) find when they try to improve their teaching by just getting a laptop cart or going to the computer lab. Schools need to have conversations about what reform means to them and set goals based on that first, then how to change their instruction to meet their new “reformed goals” and then identify what tools they will use that best fit their instruction. 1:1 schools can work but so can schools that don’t have 1:1 computer access. Computers aren’t magic bullets for education but then again, nothing is.

  7. jerridkruse says:

    YES! YES! YES! We need to carefully and thoughtfully articulate our goals. Once a school has a common set of goals, they can align efforts and hold each other accountable!

  8. Jeff Dicks says:

    Great discussion, and I agree with a lot of the “flaws” of this initiative that really has done more than provide a device for everyone. We, like many of the other schools that we partner with, only use the device as a tool, it is not a “transformation” answer or one size fits all. Our goal was not to provide a laptop, but equal the playing field for all of our students, just as if a student doesn’t have school supplies, we find a way to provide it for them. Some schools are just a little more giving and have found ways to fund such an initiative.

    I walk the halls of a 5-12 1:1 school every day. I can see a change in teaching and the approach that our staff are taking. I admit, not all teachers are in the same place of transforming our teaching and learning model. But because I do see it in action everyday, I can say it has been one of the biggest difference makers for teachers and students. Or at least their efforts indicate through conversations on “how could I do this differently”. Apposed to conversations on implementing Marzano teaching strategies. The unintended consequences like decreased discipline referrals, increased creativity by students, and a more engaged community are just a few bonuses that I see.

    Jerrid, I don’t know you other than through conversations on Twitter, so don’t take this personally, but those of us on the front of this opportunity, took a lot of the personal attacks of those who didn’t think 1:1 was a good idea. And now I sit here with many of your same concerns that people are implementing a 1:1 for the wrong reasons, with no plan in place. But that doesn’t mean the rest of us had the same motives, that being, keeping up with our neighbors. Instead, I am working to help as many of those new district succeed in order to gain more leverage and momentum to help this tool transform more than equal access.

    It would be easy for me to criticize teacher prep programs for not producing teachers with the necessary skills to teach. But I don’t walk those halls everyday. Instead, I jump on advisory boards of post secondary and work for a solution. In comparison, I didn’t like online learning at the college level when it first came out, but as Kaplan put a dent in enrollment, most colleges now offer everything under the sun online, and it is not good. But that is not stopping them to advertise and promote that they offer all this flexibility, and assumably, without much thought for results. (I have no data to support that assumption and it is very condescending to do that)

    I appreciate your efforts to stimulate a conversation to bring about real change in teaching and learning. A thought on 4:1 – great idea, but as Chamberlain pointed out, many schools can’t fund a 1:1. We do give choice on device choice if the student wants to supply it. It is never, nor will it be, about the computer for many schools. Just a tool.

    • jerridkruse says:

      Jeff, Thanks for the comment. You have five paragraphs. Allow me to respond to each paragraph by number:

      1) “Leveling the playing field” could be seen as language that treats all students the same, or as language that thinks access to a digital device is all that stands in “low performing” students’ way. I am confident this is not how you meant this statement, but even what we don’t mean to say is important. Also, let’s not assume that districts doing 1:1 are “more giving”, that’s not fair to other districts. As I tried to make clear in my post, I am not against 1:1 (notice the part where I would love to teach in such a school). I am trying to articulate that 1:1 is not reform (as you seem to also recognize). What I find interesting is that 1:1ers will say that the laptops are just a tool, but when someone else notes that the laptops are not the key ingredient, they get defensive.

      2) The “unintended consequences” you note are clear in the literature, hooray! However, what is not clear is the effect on student learning. So, now we have to try to explain the “behavior difference”. (I think we can all agree that behavior is important in schools, but not the point). The change in behavior could be because the kids are more engaged. But if the engagement is not leading to better learning (which according to literature is yet unclear) i worry this engagement is actually entertainment – a dangerous path to go down in schools. I believe technology may serve as a wedge to get teachers talking about teaching in meaningful ways. However, if the talking about teaching doesn’t happen I am confident no change will happen. Sounds like your teachers are talking about teaching. So PLEASE attribute any improvement in your school to the conversations your teachers are having, NOT the laptops.

      3) I’ve never personally attacked anyone for going 1:1. As I noted, I am not against 1:1. I am against the commonly held belief (or at least that’s how most people talk) that the laptops are the key ingredient. They are not. The teachers are the key ingredient. If we could get teachers to have the “teaching conversations” I mentioned earlier without the laptops, the laptops would not be necessary. But as I said, some people just need something new to force them to take a second look at their teaching.

      4) I do walk the teacher prep halls everyday and I know there are some serious flaws in that system. And i also do not like 100% online environments and raise issues when we discuss online classes in faculty meetings often. However, I don’t believe we fix any system by sitting on a board. We don’t fix a system by adding a new device. We don’t fix a system by putting it online. We fix a system by affecting the people within that system. I became a teacher educator to help prepare better teachers. I constantly talk with my colleagues about how to better prepare teachers so that we all get better at our task. (And I don’t need to have a 1:1 initiative to generate those conversations). The key to improving any institution is getting the people of that institution to work together to get better. You seem to imply that the 1:1 initiative got your teachers working together to get better. My point is that you don’t need the computers to get teachers to collaborate. My point is that the collaboration and improvement of teaching is the key. My point is to remove focus on 1:1 being key and help us recognize that teachers are key.

      5) You’ve missed my point on 4:1. I am not saying give every kid four devices. I’m saying give every kid ACCESS to multiple devices. That is, give every classroom 10 laptops, 5 desktops, 5 ipods, and 5 touches. Then let kids work between devices and choose the right tool for a given job. This will work out to approximately 1:1, but won’t limit what device students have access too.

      Again, thanks for your comments! I hope you understand my intent is not to be critical of 1:1 efforts. My intent is to be critical of 1:1 dialogue. I think 1:1 efforts are well intentioned, but we miss many fundamental issues in education when we keep talking about the technology.

      I believe you and other 1:1ers get that the people are what cause the changes in your building. However, your (and many many others’) dialogue does not make that clear. So as my post says, “If you really believe the technology is second fiddle to improved teaching and learning, stop talking about the technology.”

      Instead of talking about how great the technology is, tell us about HOW the teaching has changed. It’s very easy to say that school culture has changed drastically. Give us some examples. Tell us HOW your teachers are focusing on deep learning rather than factual recall. Tell us WHAT the teachers do to engage the kids. Right now, all I see around the web related to 1:1 is what the computers are doing. I think we all know what the computers do doesn’t matter. Let’s stop talking about the computers and start talking about teachers and teaching!

  9. Jeff Dicks says:

    Jerrid,

    We are on the same page for the most part. It appears we are both concerned with the number of schools that are going 1:1 with only 1-2 months discussion at a board table. They are not taking the time to allow for the conversations we both want to result to improve teaching.

    I totally agree with your reference to a “wedge”, I refer to the laptop as a “lever” to stimulate these teaching conversations. That is not why we went 1:1 but it has been very rewarding to see those conversations focused on improvement.

    I should have explained more of “my sitting on a board” statement. I didn’t mention sitting on a board to assume I know what is going on. I do that to try and sit at the table to change things. I don’t think that is why they asked me, but rather to meet a requirement for their accred. visit. However, out of my involvement, we are working on a project with our AEA and a post secondary institution on how to improve lesson design. Our first meeting is coming up next week and I look forward to that relationship.

    Just a clarifying statement, that I turn down more offers to sit on a board, and don’t think that sitting on a board is to “fix” anything. It does upset me to hear people talk all about the computer instead of what has changed for the teacher and student. “Doing the same stuff in a flashier way” is part of a lot of teacher/teacher and teacher/admin conversations.

    Thanks for your thoughtful response, this dialogue are part of the conversation that needs to occur to improve teaching.

  10. bpetty says:

    We’re in our 2nd year as a 1:1 school. Are there instances of students “wasting time” with laptops and teachers not using them at extremely high levels? Of course. However, the society and workplace these students are going into are increasingly driven by digital technologies. Does that mean students should be staring at screens all day, every day? No. However, if we can engage student in higher level thinking, problem-solving, data analysis, and project creation, why shouldn’t technology be a big part of that? I am a high school principal, and believe we need to be doing more project learning that simulates real world experiences. Are artists and designers increasingly turning to digital technologies for their creations? Yes. Would our students designing 3D and virtual reality projects be able to do their work as effectively and to the same quality without 1:1 laptops? No way. Do mathematicians and scientists increasingly rely on spreadsheets, data probes / instruments that interface with computers, and computer programs? Can student blogs, Skype, and other digital means improve students‘ communication skills? Do fields of architecture and construction now heavily rely on digital models / diagrams? I could go on about other areas, and why I think students’ use of digital tools available with 1:1 is beneficial, but I won’t.

    That being said, I don’t think I’m really disagreeing with you much. From a few conversations I’ve had this year, I know that there are some schools going to 1:1 because they’re afraid they may lose students to surrounding schools if they don’t, or they’re afraid of being seen as “old school”, and these certainly don’t sound like a recipe for 1:1 success. If schools just hand out laptops without much quality professional development, and teachers primarily use them for low level purposes, it is a major concern. There are definitely times when it is beneficial to “close the lids” and spend time thinking, discussing, and problem-solving in class without computers. However, I’ve seen enough great digital student projects and activities that demonstrate high levels of learning (along with the excitement and enthusiasm that often accompany such projects) that I’m “sold” on the potential of 1:1, although we certainly haven’t maximized their use (and I see where you’re going with 4:1, but there are too many programs our Macs do that phones, iPads, and iPods can’t do for me to push for something like that at the time…..although a few dozen iPads wouldn’t be a bad idea….).

    There is no doubt in my mind though, that an effective teacher who understands how to use these technologies to facilitate / foster higher cognitive levels and creativity will get much better “output” than a mediocre teacher that tosses every new whiz-bang program / technology out there at his/her students. Can you have a very good teacher that uses digital technologies and a very good teacher that does not? Yes, but I’d say that (especially as students get older) if you have your students doing authentic project / problem-solving work that is “high in Bloom’s” and simulates real world type situations or environments, I think it’s increasingly difficult over the years to do so at the highest levels without embedding various digital technologies.

  11. Nick Sauers says:

    Jerrid,

    I began reading your post with a bit of apprehension. Just as there are those who hail one-to-one as a great fix for our educational system, there are also those who consider it a horrible plan. Some simply seem to fail to see any good with one-to-one. This response gets a bit long, but I can sum it up in one sentence.

    “Even if teaching doesn’t change in our one-to-one schools, our students and schools are still better off!”

    Your post centered on how we need to focus on teaching as opposed to technology. I don’t disagree with that, nor do I think anyone else would. When I talk about one-to-one, I focus on how schools need to really concentrate on major changes in teaching and even the structure of the system. My belief is that access to technology enables teachers to change in ways that are otherwise very difficult. Tony Wagner’s list of the seven survival skills in 21st Century Skills highlight some of the ways I believe that technology can enhance teaching and learning.

    Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
    Collaboration across Networks and Leading by Influence
    Agility and Adaptability
    Initiative and Entrepreneurialism
    Effective Oral and Written Communication
    Accessing and Analyzing Information
    Curiosity and Imagination

    When I look at each of these skills, I think how using technology could enhance teaching and learning in each area. If I wanted to take the time, it would be easy to think of examples in each area. One example focusing on “curiosity and imagination” comes from my experience as a sixth grade teacher when students were developing projects about Ancient Egypt. In preparation, I hit the local libraries and brought three milk crates of books into the classroom. I was also fortunate to have a computer lab next to my room which I hoarded. My rubric required students to use resources from various mediums, but I’m sure you can guess what most students preferred. The internet didn’t have a limit to the information available, and my books did. Students were able to ask and answer questions on their own. Unfortunately, students quite frequently are even much more limited than that, and they must use their outdated textbook as a resource. This example in some ways may actually seem like a bad example because you could argue that the book is simply being replaced by the device. I would argue that true inquiry based learning shouldn’t be limited to the type, time, and place of resources. One-to-one changes that.

    Thus far I think we have one point we can agree on and a second point that may be up for more debate.

    1) Teaching and learning needs to be the focus!
    2) Providing teachers with technology along with training better enables them to change their practices.

    Now I start the part where I really disagree with you, and this is something I don’t write about very frequently for fear of sounding like a true techie. You say that we need to stop talking about the technology.

    You and I both realize there are schools that have rushed into one-to-one with little focus on changing teaching practices. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it, but…….

    I would argue that those schools and students are still better off than they were. For a cost of two to four hundred dollars each year, I certainly think it is worth the investment. If our job as educators is to prepare citizens, can we really do that without teaching them about technology? Do we really believe that successful citizens won’t need to navigate technology in both their personal and professional lives. I’m sorry, but I don’t consider one or two lab periods each week sufficient. We shouldn’t wonder why our students go away to college and make extremely poor decisions with their computing devices. Did we really think that one digital citizenship unit that they were taught in eighth grade would do the job?

    I also have a HUGE problem with the fact that some of our most disadvantaged students have limited access to technology. Our privileged students can go home and learn what they want to learn and more disadvantaged students are left out. They can learn about some pretty awesome things that may help shape their futures. I get upset just writing about this. You say we should “stop talking about technology”. That may be fine for kids who have technology, but what about the others? What about the issue of equity in schools? I just talked with a teacher from here in Iowa who has one computer in their class for students and no computer lab. The lab, which consisted of computers with floppy drives, was recently removed. Can we really “stop talking about technology”?

    I know that you aren’t against technology Jarred, but I strongly disagree that we shouldn’t talk about technology. Technology means opportunity for many of our students. Technology plus a change in teaching is of course our goal. I could care less about the device, and think that is a school decision. I agree with you about cloud computing, and that is what I teach if I am teaching tools to schools. We shouldn’t kid ourselves though about the level of technology in our schools. Our students deserve better. I guess that I’m not going to stop talking about the technology, and I’ll also keep talking about using that technology to change teaching.

    When we refuse to talk about the technology, we remove it from the conversations of educational leaders and school boards. We are essentially holding students hostage to the practices and traditions of the adults while waiting for “reform”. Unfortunately, our system has proven extremely resistant to change. Administrators, teachers, and preparation programs have in many cases failed to be reformed. You wrote that “True reform only happens if the underlying beliefs that guide instruction are changed.” Must our students wait until that happens before we give them access to a tool that will almost certainly be relevant to their everyday life?

    Nick Sauers

    • jerridkruse says:

      Nick,

      Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I’ve already made clear in other comments that I’m not against 1:1 and I do see value in the initiatives. However, I think it is important to provide balance to a very very one-side dialogue happening around 1:1.

      First off, Tony Wagner’s list of that he claims to be 21st century is insulting to the last generation of teachers. Do we really think teachers haven’t always wanted those things? Also, what part of his list below *requires* digital technology? None, because networks existed before the internet and if we think accessing info is only done online, we are being just as narrow minded as the people who are unreasonably against 1:1.

      Wagner’s list
      Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
      Collaboration across Networks and Leading by Influence
      Agility and Adaptability
      Initiative and Entrepreneurialism
      Effective Oral and Written Communication
      Accessing and Analyzing Information
      Curiosity and Imagination

      Also, your example about students using online resources does not, in my opinion, have anything to do with curiosity and imagination. The task was given by you (not the students), the rubric was given by you (not the students) and using the internet instead of a book doesn’t take creativity. So while you want to believe the technology increased students’ curiosity and imagination, the things you did as the teacher may have actually limited these traits. I don’t mention this to insult you, but to point out how very very important what the teacher does is.

      You claim that “providing teachers with technology along with training better enables them to change their practices” is debatable. I would argue that oftentimes the technology gets in the way of teachers changing their practice. When they start using the technology they use it in ways very similar to how they taught without the technology (ie: they still give worksheets, but now with a computer). Yet, because the technology is now present, the teacher *thinks* they’ve changed, when nothing fundamental has changed. Is this always the case? Of course not, but it seems to me, no one in the edublogosphere is willing to even admit it’s a possibility.

      Lastly, your argument about equity is very very important! However, if we give every kid a laptop, this is not equity. What would be equitable is if every kid had access to high quality teachers. Because I think you and I both agree on the importance of teachers, if we don’t work to provide equitable access to high quality teachers, we are only putting a band aid on a much deeper issue. Sure, online school could give students “access” to high quality teachers, but the best f2f teaching is not as good as best online. Come to my class (any class) and try to do what I do in an online class – that is me putting my money where my mouth is. :) Anyway, I’d rather help the bad teachers get better than distribute the good teacher via the web.

      One more example to illustrate. Imagine 75 years ago, if someone said we need all kids to have equitable access to excellent textbooks. This is a nice idea, but in hindsight we now know that a bad teacher and a great textbooks is worthless. So, perhaps access to modern technology and a bad teacher is also worthless. We’d like to think the kids will spontaneously read the textbook (use the web in meaningful ways), but if they don’t have a great teacher to inspire, model and help we know the computer isn’t getting used in the way it ought to be.

      Honestly, the belief that technology will fix these very very fundamental issues demonstrates the technological illiteracy of many of the edtech advocates. Thinking I can take a pill to get skinny doesn’t address the deeper issue of health. Tech literacy is more than using tech, it *must* include aspects of philosophy. In today’s world, we must prepare citizens who can both work with and critically assess technology. We must recognize what the tech does FOR us, what it does TO us, and what it CANNOT do.

      So let’s talk equity, let’s talk “21st century skills”, let’s talk about teachers improving their practice. But let’s stop thinking technology is the answer to these problems. These problems run WAY too deep for there to be a quick technological fix.

  12. John Strange says:

    Some quick comments. I will write a longer discussion on my Dr. John Strange’s Strange Thoughts blog by 2/12.

    1. In Alabama we have never even thought of reform, much less reform spearheaded by technology. The high school that students from my subdivision attend did win the state 5A Football Championship this year. And the high school has been open only 5 full years! Now that’s an accomplishment!
    2. If we get enough money to buy anything, much less any thing for every body, we are in better times than most of us here have ever seen.
    3. 1:1? Not a problem. No 1:1 classes within 500 miles as far as I know. Of course that statistic is helped by having the Gulf of Mexico to our south!
    4. 4:1? Not a chance. Maybe 40-1. A real blowout. Anyway, how do you get 4:1? Two safeties to an extra point without a touchdown? What kind of football do you play in Iowa Russ?
    5. Videos of math instruction. Probably pornographic and not allowed in Alabama. For several years I gave a math quiz to my classes of aspiring teachers. Yes teachers. Over a third regularly were unable to convert a two place decimal into a percentage. An equal percentage couldn’t do the reverse: convert a % into a 2 place decimal. Almost half could not divide 15 by 11 to 3 decimal places. And on and on…I quit giving the quiz three years ago. It was too discouraging. And these students want to be teachers! So maybe
    either of those approaches might help – with or without technology. And then again, maybe not.
    6. “Technology is not teaching.” Agreed!
    ACCESS
    is the only link to technology on the high school web site.
    7. “True reform only happens if the underlying beliefs that guide instruction are changed. Reform only happens when the actions of teachers and students are modified. Simply adding technology does nothing to change philosophy or the roles of teachers and students.” I couldn’t agree more. Where do we start? Well I raise this question with my entering pre-service teachers: Must all teachers be technologically literate (Karl Fisch’s famous question)? This semester 13% of the 137 students entering EDM310 replied No to that question. And when asked what they meant by “technological literacy” most defined it as being able to use a computer. Some added “able to use a smart board”. Here’s an example I have copied from the resulting Google spreadsheet: “Able to do many task such as word, excell, excess, etc easly.” [sic (to all the mistakes contained herein)] And they are intending to be teachers!

    So, in conclusion, let me say that your intention to generate a debate on whether a focus on technology undermines a focus on teaching isn’t relevant in the world in which I live. And we both live in the United States.

    Oh yes, another thing. Spanish Fort High School is generally regarded as the best high school in Baldwin County. And that was before they won the 5A Football Championship. I think that assessment is probably correct, however you define “best”. Baldwin County schools in general are regarded as superior to those in Mobile County. That too is probably correct.

    So come join us where the focus on anyimprovements – technology oriented or teaching oriented (or both) – will be appreciated. At least by me!

    • jerridkruse says:

      i’m glad you note that the 1:1 debate doesn’t matter in some parts because 1:1 isn’t even an option. This may further highlight the need to focus on teaching rather than technology.

  13. Nick Sauers says:

    Jerrid,

    Thanks for the response. I certainly disagree with some of your points, but understand your perspective. My point is simply that technology is also important. It isn’t as important as teaching or learning, nor should it be the focus of our conversations. I’m a big part of the 1:1 community, and I don’t believe those teachers and administrators have failed to focus on changing teaching and learning. Sure, some are doing better than others, but almost all are at least trying to reform their schools. I would also strongly argue that there has been much more reform in those schools than others throughout the state. Your question that asks if one-to-one is the wrong type of reform is a good question. Many one-to-one leaders are forward thinking, and open to other types of reform. I’m certainly interested in reform efforts such as AIW, the Iowa Core, and others.

    I also believe educators are capable of balancing multiple conversations and strategies. I would disagree that it needs to be about choosing “one or the other”. Educators can focus on good teaching and technology integration. Technololgy can be a tool that can help drive some of those changes to teaching.

    Nick Sauers

  14. source says:

    This is a wonderful weblog, could you be interested in making time for an interview regarding just how you developed it? If so e-mail me!

  15. Stacy Ackley says:

    Very well put I am not sure that tech makes better teachers or students but I do believe we need to use all tools possible to capture the students attention

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