Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Where Is the Technology Revolution in Education? (School 2.0, Part 10)

Yesterday I recorded this audio interview with Michael Russell of Boston College, whom I had recently heard speak at the COSN's 12th Annual K-12 School Networking Conference on the topic of "Where Is the Technology Revolution in Education?"

I was captivated by his talk, and quickly arranged an interview with him. You'll notice that I organized the interview in slightly different order than his presentation (a .pdf version of which is available here)--while Michael started his presentation by talking about the ways in which technology has transformed business, I wanted to jump right into the discussion of educational technology and the history of education, then to look at the business examples. Even though I think Michael has some very interesting things to say about trends in business technology that are likely to be played out in education, I prefer to downplay that concept a little because I'm not sure that business examples are always the best ones to trot out for education (although, to Michaels great credit, I think he's largely on the mark).

Here is Michael's COSN conference description of his original presentation (my notes on our interview follow):

Where is the Technology Revolution in Education? Essential Skills: Leadership and Vision, Education and Training

Computer-based technologies have revolutionized business, politics, and entertainment. They have allowed businesses such as Amazon.com and Netflix to dramatically expand the range of products from which they generate profits by creating large niche markets. Political candidates employ tactics that profile and target customized messages to potential voters. Children and young adults are no longer dependent on broadcast networks and movie houses for entertainment, but instead instantly access media and games that spark their current interests. Yet, despite dramatic increases in the presence of computers in our schools and repeated efforts to increase use of technology by students and teachers, education has been largely unaffected by computer-based technologies. Students rarely use computers in schools and they have little choice in what and when they learn. Most teachers still stand and deliver a curriculum that is imposed from above. And the predominant model of education is nearly identical to that introduced over a century ago. Why is this? This presentation explores the many impediments that have limited the use of technology in today’s schools. We see how access, leadership, support, and test-based accountability impact the ways in which technology is used by teachers and students. Learning from lessons in business, politics and the entertainment industry, we also explore how computer-based technologies might support dramatic changes in how education occurs if we are willing to move away from the paradigm of schooling adopted a century ago. These changes include targeting learning so that it is aligned with the interests and needs of students, creating networks of learners instead of classrooms of students, and integrating what is currently separate fields of studies.


I used the outline below to organized the topics in my own way to prepare for the interview. Of course, I didn't hit all of the points, but Michael does a great job of exploring the concepts that we did touch on.

I. What Is the Problem?
  • We've spent a lot of money on computers, the ratio of computer to students is higher than it's ever been, schools are more connected to the Internet than ever before. Why is there a problem?
    • Where Is "Engaged Learning" actually taking place?
      • Are kids learning more outside of school than in school?
      • Are their learning environments more compelling outside of school?
      • Has school changed, or just what we are comparing it to?
    • What are computers actually used for in schools?
      • Are they just "expensive pencils?"
      • Are they not integrated enough?
      • What about 1:1 programs?
      • How ubiquitous do computers need to be for transformation to take place?
    • Is the cost of computing in schools too high?
      • If we've spent so much money, why aren't we seeing results?
        • Have we actually spent that much money?
          • What percent of school budgets actually goes to technology? (Is 3% correct?)
        • Spending money doesn't necessarily equate to student time on computers (Indiana)
        • Is there too much of a separation of purchasing/maintaining roles from teachers and classroom?
      • Are we just waiting for the "lag-time effect?" (infrastructure built out, then some years later innovation takes place--computers, data examples)
      • There are inexpensive alternatives for computing. Why aren't we using them? (Linux and Open Source Software)
    • What can we expect of teachers?
      • Younger teachers were supposed to bring the technology with them
        • They use these tools even less in the classroom than their older peers?
      • How do we help teachers understand the potential
        • Help them to learn to use the tools themselves?
        • Recognize the need for time
        • Recognize the need for training
II. Why Is the History of Education Important to This Discussion?
  • What are the paradigms of schooling that have been adopted in this country?
    • Charity Schools, Common Schools, and Cubberley on schools as factories.
      • Schools as “factories in which the raw materials (children) are to be shaped and fashioned into products to meet the various demands of life”
    • If we could all afford private tutors, would we sit at desks in rows, have bells, and learn the same things at the same time?
    • Is there any truth to John Taylor Gatto's themes of social control?
  • How could computer-based technologies open the door to changes?
    • What kind of resistance will there be?
    • Where is change taking place?
III. How have computers revolutionized business?
  • Can we look to any of the business changes for a model of possible ways they will affect education?
  • Can education respond as the business world does, or is education too much of a "machine" that "chews up and spits out innovation?"
  • What examples are there now of "transformed education?" (Gibson quote: the future is here, it's just not widely distributed.)
IV. What are the potentials for the use of Web 2.0 in the classroom?

Listen to the the Interview in MP3 format
Listen to the Interview in Vorbis OGG format

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