Who Is EdTech Really Serving?

FOLLOW YOUR VISION: Gary Stager definitely believes technology in the classroom has its benefits. It's just not clear who (or what) is better off as a result -- the system, the teacher, or the student, he says. It certainly is not "neutral," argues Stager. "Data collection, drill-and-practice test-prep, computerized assessment or monitoring Common Core compliance" provide direct support to the system. Smartboards, lesson planning and presentation tools, and classroom management solutions all serve to influence the teacher (and make life easier). And technology that is, in Stager's words, an "intellectual laboratory and vehicle for self-expression" should be available to the benefit of the student.

The common mistake is that "too many educators make the mistake of assuming a false equivalence between 'technology' and its use," says Stager. The consequence is that while much of edtech is assumed to benefit the learner (hey, what's school for anyway?), it may inadvertently restrict the "breadth, depth and complexity of potential projects" that technology makes possible.

Stager makes three recommendations for making technology in the classroom learner-centric. Chief among them is a call for "real computers capable of programming, video editing, music composition and controlling external peripherals." Students can't develop today's skills using yesterday's (or the last decade's) technology.

Thoughtful points --echoed in this equally thoughtful essay by computer science teacher, Sheena Vaidyanathan

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