Doing What We’ve Always Done

So, the big report about the effectiveness of educational software is out and the news is supposedly bad. In other words, the software has no significant effect on student test scores. I must say that I am not surprised. Isn’t that the conclusion we find with all sorts of educational interventions? No significant effect.

What I find interesting are the reactions to technology that are coming out in reaction to the news. It is becoming something of a touch point for discussing technology in general. For instance, this post from the Spiral Notebook asks for reactions. One comment is a diatribe against giving every kid a laptop. The writer comments that the textbook only takes a second to open while getting online takes much longer. It appears that what the teacher is accessing online is the textbook. Well, perhaps here’s the problem…maybe what we should be accessing online in a Spanish class isn’t the textbook. (I know, I know, most schools that adopt laptop initiatives do so by eliminating textbooks so she really doesn’t have a choice.) But, all I can think of are the Spanish-language resources available on the web from newspapers to discussion forums to radio and video websites.

If we are just planning to continue to do what we’ve always done, then we really don’t need computers for each student. Let’s start thinking about doing what we couldn’t do before and then we’ll start getting some ideas about how laptops might be worth the price tag.

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