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Nonfiction Matters
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One to One Education

Better Learning Through Technology?

That headline is meant to echo "better living through chemistry" the Dupont slogan that was adapted and reversed in meaning in the 1960s. Optimistic projections of what science can do for us have often wound up turned upside down ("Our Friend the Atom" being another). I’m playing with this theme because of an article in the Sunday Times News of the Week in Review, called "At Your Fingers, an Oxford Don." As Monica Martinez, president of New Tech Network puts it, "the promise of technology is to take us back to the past, toward one-to-one learning." And apparently college students who took online classes did somewhat better on tests than those who took similar courses in a physical classroom.
      Our world is not college. Part of the learning in K-12 is just the experience of being in school, so there are big questions about diminishing that experience, etc. etc. Obviously home schooling parents have come up with ways of addressing the socialization issues,and there is no reason why a student couldn’t come to school, work alone on a computer, then go to lunch with her whole class. But realistically, one-to-one learning is going to happen in college before it comes to K-12, and in private school well before public school. And yet, and yet, and yet.
     What is a book but an author speaking one to one with a student? "Let me tell you a story" — every author  says to every reader on page 1. So to me the potential of more technological contact is for us as authors to tell more stories, to be more present, to share more with kids. The Times article says the Department of Education has a new National Educational Technology plan I have not read it, but I will. We need to figure out how to bring our skills into that technological conversation.


  1. Linda Zajac says:

    Thanks for posting the link to the Dept of Educ technology plan. Since I have a technology background, I’m quite interested in reading it.

  2. Sure — anything I find I’m happy to send around to all of you. Tell us what you think of the plan.

  3. Linda Zajac says:

    The article was not what I expected it to be. I expected to read about U.S. visionaries giving their best guesses on the future of technology in education. Pardon me if I am wrong here, but according to this statement in the 9/12/09 Times article, I don’t think the technology plan is out yet:

    “The Department of Education recently announced that it was developing a new National Educational Technology Plan to provide a “vision of how information and communications technologies can help transform American education.” The plan, the agency said, will include “concrete goals,” with a draft expected early next year.”

    The link I looked at was “student” visions of how they foresee technology used in education. And believe me they have some pretty far fetched ideas–wear a helmet or take a pill to get knowledge transferred. Yeah, don’t we all wish it was that easy.

    Maybe I’m reading the wrong article?

  4. My mistake — the plan is “forthcoming” and the website actually includes a Visions statement of student ideas, not the plan itself — good catch.