There are four keys to helping schools maximize the educational opportunities that new technologies provide:
1. Establish clear goals for what students should know and be able to do. While conversations about technology often start with wish lists (“wouldn’t it be great to buy 1,000 iPads?”), buying devices should be the last thing on the list.
2. Focus on the educational problem that needs to be solved. Are teachers not getting enough coaching? Are advanced students feeling stifled in math or science?
3. Explore how technology can help solve those problems, perhaps by changing the assumptions of the old environment. Rather than assuming that schools can only provide tutoring if they’re able to recruit enough adults to pair up with students or staff in an in-school program, it’s possible to use online, computer-assisted tutoring to radically expand the pool of potential support. Teachers might get more coaching from virtual mentors, or they could record classes and get feedback from a faculty coach.
4. Rethink how funds are spent as new technologies create new opportunities to instruct, support, and assess, rendering some old expenditures unnecessary or duplicative (old-style textbooks, anyone?) while recommending new outlays. This approach shouldn’t be a burden, it should be a breath of fresh air to educators frustrated by routines and rules that waste their time, temper their impact, and limit their ability to put their expertise and insights to work.
Yeah, yeah, blah, blah.
All the tech, and all the uses of tech, in education won’t solve the real problem which is that a significant element of the national student body includes what are essentially barbarian savages with an active animosity to education, teachers, and learning itself. They poison the schoolrooms of America for everybody else – and you aren’t going to solve that with iPads.
Where that element is absent, education of any sort works much better. But until we recognize and acknowledge that fact, very little can or will be done, whether it involves technology or not.