I don’t want to dwell on the author’s opinions, but it’s important to note a few things I believe are getting in the way of student learning because of articles like this. The biggest problem I have with the article is its promotion of the misconception that students only use technology in ways that waste time, negatively impacting their learning. Though the data shows decreased scores in the selected test groups, with part of the purpose being to rally support for more good teachers (with which I totally agree), the opinion disregards the world in which our students will be asked to live and work in the future. The article promotes limiting student use of technology in schools, viewing it as a distraction. If our school community viewed technology like the author, there certainly would not be any need to change what we are doing; we could just keep living in the past.
A couple of years ago, I might have used this kind of information to support my own lack of urgency for student technology use at school. At some point, though, it had to become more about my students and less about me. It was true self-reflection that caused me to realize the technology skills our young learners will need in order to hold the most basic of jobs or make it very far along their chosen career path. I respect and agree with our students' need for daily face-to-face interactions at school and at home, which are so important in raising communicative, collaborative people. I also agree there is a great need for skillful teachers. Given the needs of our students, I say -- we want it all! We need to purpose ourselves to having skillful teachers guiding students to use technology in ways that support critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity.
Technology integration in our district is a project that has been slow to evolve. It may seem a bit odd to think about, but having limited dollars to expand our technology has probably been in our favor. Our situation has allowed us, even forced us, to be a bit more thoughtful about the big picture and more purposeful about implementation. The work that needs to be done revolves around the “Why?” which will lead to the “What?” which then gets to the “How?” Let’s not rule out technology as a tool for learning. Let’s put plans in place and do work that needs to be done to ensure we meet our number one goal -- educating our kids so they are prepared for their futures. The key will be to do this the right way.