Sunday's New York Times article, "In Classroom of Future, Stagnant Scores" by Matt Richtel had the wrong headline.
When describing a classroom in Arizona's Kyrene School District, which invested $33 million from a ballot initiative dedicated to technology upgrades, Richtel laments the district's "stagnant scores" in reading and math. He writes: "Critics counter that, absent clear proof, schools are being motivated by a blind faith in technology and an overemphasis on digital skills — like using PowerPoint and multimedia tools — at the expense of math, reading and writing fundamentals."
Richtel quotes Randy Yerrick, associate dean of educational technology at the University of Buffalo, who discounts engagement as a "fluffy term that can slide past critical analysis."
Most educators and education experts know that throwing money and technology at a school is hardly a cure-all for increasing student achievement. Devices are not the panacea. As ZDNet's Christopher Dawson writes: "There are plenty of ways to go about making a school 'technology-rich' that actually take away from the real business of learning. When rollouts are half-hearted, teachers and parents don’t completely embrace the approach, students and teachers lack accountability, and teachers aren’t provided with the right training and coaching, then schools end up buying a lot of expensive toys."
But when technology is deployed thoughtfully in a way that feeds into a broader system that's not reliant on the outdated factory model of schooling, when educators are trained how to best take advantage of devices and software and the Internet at large, the quality of learning should not be discounted -- even if it can't be measured yet.