17 September 2008

On the failure of technology

There's apparently no similar-scale evidence relating to further and higher education, but;
    "Those and other trials by Nielsen amount to an important research project that helps explain one of the great disappointments of education in our time. I mean the huge investment schools have made in technology, and the meager returns such funds have earned. Ever since the Telecommunications Act of 1996, money has poured into public-school classrooms. At the same time, colleges have raced to out-technologize one another. But while enthusiasm swells, e-bills are passed, smart classrooms multiply, and students cheer — the results keep coming back negative. When the Texas Education Agency evaluated its Technology Immersion Pilot, a $14-million program to install wireless tools in middle schools, the conclusion was unequivocal: "There were no statistically significant effects of immersion in the first year on either reading or mathematics achievement." When University of Chicago economists evaluated California schools before and after federal technology subsidies (the E-Rate program) had granted 30 percent more schools in the state Internet access, they determined that "the additional investments in technology generated by E-Rate had no immediate impact on measured student outcomes." In March 2007, the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance evaluated 16 award-winning education technologies and found that "test scores were not significantly higher in classrooms using selected reading and mathematics software products." Last spring a New York State school district decided to drop its laptop program after years of offering it. The school-board president announced why: "After seven years, there was literally no evidence it had any impact on student achievement — none."
But the reasons, Mark Bauerlein argues in the article, is that technology-enhanced teaching does not work because students apply to their learning the same skimming and skipping skills that they bring to their other net-based activities; they don't pursue arguments and follow them through on-line.

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