Last week, we saw two completely different ways to cover technology in schools in the New York Times.
On Tuesday, Alan Schwarz wrote a fair and balanced article about an Indiana school district that's transitioning to digital textbooks. In the story, we heard from a veteran teacher, who said it's “the most exciting thing to happen in my 40 years of teaching"; from another who said, “This way I can give my time to the kids who really need it. And it’s a lot more engaging for the kids. They’re actually doing their homework now.”
We heard from Tony Bennett, Indiana’s superintendent of public instruction, who said, “I believe in local control, and we don’t have the ability to be the keeper of knowledge we have been in the past. We’ll be better off if we uncuff people’s hands.” Even a student's perspective made it into the
story: “With a textbook, you can only read what’s on the pages — here you can click on things and watch videos,” said Patrick Wu, a seventh grader. “It’s more fun to use a keyboard than a pencil. And my grades are better because I’m focusing more.”
We read about the fees associated with the computers, parents worrying about exposing their kids to the "online wilderness," as well as the realities of technical glitches that come with transitioning an entire school district to a digital curriculum: disappearing assignments, unsaved tests, and network failures.