Education

Why I Remain Skeptical of Technology in the Classroom

I’m no Luddite. I love tech gadgets, just ask my wife, who still has the patience of Job when it comes to my iPod/MacBook/Kindle Fire addiction.

However, in the classroom, all of the whiz-bang-ooh-bright-shiny gadgetry has its limits. Try keeping a class engaged these days. Try keeping them from staring at their crotches, trying to hide incoming and outgoing texts.

Yes, our kids need to know how to use these gadgets in a rapidly changing world. But they also need to be able to pay attention for more than two minutes. Pamela Paul writes in today’s NY Times:

In classrooms, apps may supplement traditional lessons in handwriting, letter recognition and math drills. Digital puzzle games offer none of the tactile effort involved in turning a shape and trying — and trying again — to get it to fit. Multiple studies show that skills learned on-screen don’t always transfer to real life.

Again, I love the gadgets. I love the games. I play right along with my teenagers on the Wii and XBox. At home. In school, I want my kids and my students to learn the value in putting pen to paper, in creating through old fashioned effort. Paul sums it up:

Deliberate practice of less-than-exhilarating rote work isn’t necessarily fun but they need to get used to it — and learn to derive from it meaningful reward, a pleasure far greater than the record high score.

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