Asking the Right Questions about Education Technology

In an article on Forbes, contributor Jordan Shapiro makes some excellent points about the kind of dialogue currently surrounding the issue of integrating technology into the classroom. Primarily, he points out that people have largely been asking the wrong questions. Unsurprisingly, Shapiro feels that this is in large part due to the agendas inherent in many of the technologies being examined today. These agendas are often concerned with prioritizing the teaching of marketable skills, while ignoring the implicit messages and values that they impress upon students. Namely, like the high-stakes testing based environment that has created or exacerbated many of the problems in education today, Shapiro believes these technologies often teach children that marketable skills are a value, rather than a skill-set. On that topic, Shapiro makes an excellent point that people often mistakenly believe that they can remove these misguided messages from these technological media when adapting them for classroom use. For that reason, the slower pace of technological integration into the education sector (versus other sectors such as business) is actually beneficial in that it allows us time to step back and ask ourselves these important questions: What is the message this technology is sending to students? What is the goal of this technology? Does it align with desirable educational outcomes? On this point, I would have to agree with Shapiro.   It often seems that policy makers and business leaders alike are best equipped to slip something past the public eye when there has yet to be enough established, scholarly research and dialogue on a topic. So while it is important for teachers and administrators to look for new solutions to existing problems, it is equally important to allow themselves and others time to question them. Without that, it becomes all too easy for businesses and politicians to slip in tools and constructs with a hidden agenda, thus depriving children of a quality education that is able to adequately prepare them for the future.

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