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, tinyurl.com/phh5bc called "At Your Fingers, an Oxford Don." As Monica Martinez, president of New Tech Network tinyurl.com/nwlqcp 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 tinyurl.com/gnl6g. I have not read it, but I will. We need to figure out how to bring our skills into that technological conversation.