Friday, January 20, 2012

Technology in the Classroom

Whenever we hear discussions of improving education these days, someone inevitably brings up "technology in the classroom" as if it is unquestioningly something that leads to better learning. But is it? Sure, technology improved manufacturing -- more products produced, more uniform quality, cuts and stitches made exactly straight,.. Technology in medicine, again, better diagnostics, better records, better ability to bring teams onto the same page for care,... But how does it help in learning?

One example I've seen work is the use of clickers in science classes. The professor asks a question and like asking the audience on Who Wants to be a Millionaire, there is a quantifiable measure of who thinks what. It can be used to see if the class really understands the point you've been trying to make. It can be used to expose folk misunderstandings that science corrects. It is a useful technological pedagogical advance.

But beyond that, I don't understand why we are so fascinated with technologizing learning. Good teaching is good teaching and a good teacher doesn't need anything but a class. Is there something I'm missing here? Are there other examples of technology in the classroom that are helpful in ways a good teacher alone could not be?