Slow and Steady Tech Integration: Japan's Love Affair with the Chalkboard

Slow and Steady Tech Integration: Japan's Love Affair with the Chalkboard

CHALK IT UP TO EXPERIENCE: It's not often that you find chalkboards in modern-day American classrooms. Many have been replaced by SmartBoards, overhead projectors, and other pieces of technology. But Bradley Emerling, Principal Research Scientist at Pearson Research and Innovation Network, can't say the same for Japan. After taking a trip out there last winter and visiting 17 different classrooms, which he then documented, Emerling quickly saw just how much influence the chalkboard still has in Japanese math classrooms--and how effective chalkboards still can be when used purposefully. 

The "masterful" Japanese tactics, as Emerling refers to them as, include a unique technical vocabulary for chalkboard best practices and the use of meter sticks to draw perfectly symmetrical diagrams and tables. "Despite Japan’s slower pace of technology adoption, one might argue that Japanese educators are well ahead of the US in effective technology integration," he explains. Emerling ponders whether Americans could learn from such practices, writing:

"What if educators adopted the same approach in America with devices such as smartboards, and infrared response systems, as well applications such as screencasting, Google Docs, or Evernote? Teams of teachers could treat these devices and applications as critical topics for collaborative inquiry, develop plans for using them in the classroom, articulate hypotheses for how they will create specific learning opportunities, implement, observe and collect data on the results of these lessons."

Check out the recent repost on the blog of Stanford professor Larry Cuban for all of Emerling's findings.

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