Sunday, December 20, 2009

Technology and Education

We all know the pace of technological change proceeds at a breakneck pace these days, making it difficult for digital immigrants like me to keep up.  How can we expect our schools to adapt to this continuously changing environment, especially when resources are tight and the people in charge may not fully appreciate the potential of many of the technological innovations found in our world today?

In Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology: The Digital Revolution and Schooling in America  Allan Collins and Richard Halverson talk about the possibilities and challenges of technology in public education.  While admitting their bias toward the promise of technology, they also consider the skeptics' view and explore how the deeply entrenched organizational structure of the school system works against innovation. 

In another book that focuses on technology in schools, Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the  World Learns, Clayton M. Christensen talks about how student-centered learning is expanding largely through the less mainstream areas of the system like AP classes, remediation and special education.

Finally, those of you who attended  the WASB Leadership conference at the end of July might recall the KnowledgeWorks Foundation, Map of Future Forces and the drivers of change in education. One of the changes, the end of cyberspace, challenges us to think about how technology is becoming more integrated into our lives.  In this TED Talk, Pranav Mistry,  the inventor of SixthSense, describes a wearable device that enables new interactions between the real world and the world of data.

Collins and Halverson argue that technololgy cannot overtake traditional forms of schooling until the ratio of computers to students is 1:1.  Mistry intends to open source the SixthSense technology, perhaps making it easier for schools to bring computer technology closer to that 1:1 ratio.  What possibilities are in store for us as ideas like the Sixth Sense make their way into our lives and our schools?  How can this technology challege the deep structure of schooling that has been in place since public school systems developed one hundred years ago in the Industrial Revolution?

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