Assignment 26: Reading: The computer delusion

http://www.tnellen.com/ted/tc/computer.htm

Oh, haven't we all suffered from the computer delusion at one time or another? Something that will make our life easier ends up taking up more time than if we had just done it the old-fashioned way.

Wasn't it supposed to get rid of the stacks and stacks of paperwork I have to do? Yeah, that's right, where's the paperless society at tax time??!?

The author starts out with this statement:

There is no good evidence that most uses of computers significantly improve teaching and learning, yet school districts are cutting programs -- music, art, physical education -- that enrich children's lives to make room for this dubious nostrum, and the Clinton Administration has embraced the goal of "computers in every classroom" with credulous and costly enthusiasm

He then quotes Newt Gingrich during his time as Speaker of the House, "talking about computers to the Republican National Committee early this year, said, "We could do so much to make education available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, that people could literally have a whole different attitude toward learning."

Personally, I think both of those statements clearly indicate what is wrong with the use of technology AND the overall state of our education system. Learning 24-7? How long will be before people hate the site of a computer? Where is the fun in learning? Where is the excitement of learning?

Basically, the author posits that contrary to what pro technology experts say, history is repeating itself but no one is paying any attention (is that surprising in the Rittalin World?)

Five main arguments underlie the campaign to computerize our nation's schools.

  • Computers improve both teaching practices and student achievement.
  • Computer literacy should be taught as early as possible; otherwise students will be left behind.
  • To make tomorrow's work force competitive in an increasingly high-tech world, learning computer skills must be a priority.
  • Technology programs leverage support from the business community -- badly needed today because schools are increasingly starved for funds.
  • Work with computers -- particularly using the Internet -- brings students valuable connections with teachers, other schools and students, and a wide network of professionals around the globe. These connections spice the school day with a sense of real-world relevance, and broaden the educational community.

He then examines each of these issues and offers his criticism. In a nutshell he compares computers to the "filmstrips of the 90s". An interesting comparison when you think of what happened with filmstrips. What he may not realize is that to alot of us who remember filmstrips, we loved them. They were cool -- even the hokey ones. In a worst case situation, it was nap time. The thing is kids will always tune out if they are not interested and engaged, computers are no different in that means (although I believe that they do offer a greater chance for interactive which should be more engaging).