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4 Thoughts on the Tech Gap in Schools

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Here at the Education Nation event in New York, I got to sit in a few vibrant panels. Among them was one called "Educating the Digital Generation: What are the roles and responsibilities of media and learning?"

The panelists were Joel Rose, Reed Hastings, Weili Dai, Dick Robinson, Milton Chen, Barry Schuler, Nancy Peretsman. Here are some of the most noteworthy points:

  • The purpose of education is to train kids to get jobs, to be gainfully employed. Classrooms were made for the Industrial Age, and we can’t just take a tech program and overlay it on an outdated, dysfunctional structure. We have to reinvent the classroom – make it look like a work environment. We should have students work in groups, where everything is project based, and they’ll learn the subject in the context of a project. This way, it’s relevant to them, and they become engaged.
  • Computer labs are outdated, as is the idea that computers are something separate from learning, like typewriter labs. Learning technology is not a vocation. Technology is not the “it.” Technology is the fundamental enabler of education.
  • Most studies about technology and education show that those tech tools were not used well or not frequently enough. The main factor in making technology work is the participation of the teacher.
  • The new paradigm of integrating technology in education needs to be done in collaboration with teachers. Technology came into the medical profession and  didn’t replace the doctor. It just made the doctor a better doctor. Technology will help teachers be better teachers, but professional development is an important part of the process.