Politicians promoting use of technology in schools (better late than never)

Don’t you love it when policymakers and others “discover” something that teachers have been fighting or begging for; then turn to the cameras and say: “Wow! This could revolutionize education! Why aren’t more teachers doing this?” Sigh.

That’s how I felt as I watched testimony from the June 16 hearing before the House Education and Labor Committee on “How Innovative Educational Technologies Can Boost Student Learning and Teacher Effectiveness.”

Aneesh Chopra, White House Chief Technology Officer, gushed over the many possibilities for technology use in the classrooms as he highlighted some “on the ground” examples, including an e-book platform for collaborative writing and sharing of texts in physics.

College sophomore, Abel Real, from North Carolina shared his inspiring story of how a teacher and a school district commited to integrated technology use motivated and enabled him to successfully complete his education. He also explains how it has helped other high-needs, at-risk students.

I wonder, whether the House Committee and others listening to him realize how much technology is and has already been used in public education around the country, often by teachers having to circumvent access and resource issues?  Hopefully, this hearing suggests that the  White House and Congressional initiatives will begin with a broad search of what is already successfully being done; and engaging tech-experienced educators and students in helping plan for what could be.

I also wonder whether those in attendance at the hearing caught in Mr. Real’s remarks the importance not only of the technology, but of how it was used by the educators as an integral part of the overall teaching/learning experience, not as a sideshow. Chopra’s remarks implied this understanding; any federal actions on this issue need to keep that integration as a core principle.

The interest of the Executive and Legislative branches in promoting the use of technology in education is admirable. But past administrations have paid lip service to this, too. Although I’ll save the real rejoicing for a systematic effort to unchain teachers from antiquated policies and provide real resources to make innovative use of technology in education a reality for all our children, it’s a good start.