I had an interesting opportunity recently to have a structured debate about the role that digital tools can play in teaching and learning with Nancy Flanagan—one of my favorite critical friends and the mind behind Teacher in a Strange Land.

We tackled the topic as a part of a project for the Learning First Alliance.  Stop by and check out our thinking—and consider jumping in the conversation.

My favorite quotes from both of our entries are listed below.  Can you tell which are from Nancy and which are from me?  After guessing, stop by the original post and see if you were right:

The foundational step in meeting our future challenges revolves around this question: What does it mean to be an educated person-what should we expect of our schools?  We need to re-examine our very American assumption that we can meet all educational goals faster and better through technology.

Classrooms are filled with interactive whiteboards and LCD projectors that cost thousands of dollars. Laptops are purchased for everyone. Educators are swamped by student responders, web cams, document cameras, digital cameras and streaming video.
Yet teaching and learning doesn’t ever change because we wrongly believe that simply investing in technology will improve the chances of our children!

My response? Facility in using digital tools does make some things easier. If our goals include fostering democracy, equity and a just society, or nurturing curiosity and imaginative problem-solving, however, we must pay attention to who is readily able to acquire both hardware and capacity, and to what real ends these skills are used.

Digital tools alone are about as effective at making students more successful, creative or collaborative as they were at bringing peace to the Middle East. What they can do, however, is facilitate the kinds of learning experiences built on creation, communication and collaboration that I’d learned to avoid earlier in my teaching career.

Looking forward to seeing what thoughts you can add to our ongoing conversation!


Share this post: