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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Responding to Critics of Educational Technology

Angelica Rossi
Professor Kara Dawson

Responding to Critics
Shift of pedagogy:
·      The infatuation with technological devices will point educators in the wrong direction (Amiel, 2006). 
·      “By focusing on literacy, students will be encouraged to understand the process of technology, rather than simply being affected by it,” (Amiel, 2006).
Teachers use computers as an instructivist tool rather than a constructivist tool (Amiel, 2006).
·      Computers are used to teach mostly about applications like word processing rather than core subject area knowledge (Amiel, 2006).
·      Some educators rank computer skills and media technology as more "essential" than core subject matter, dealing with social, learning practical job skills; and than reading modern classics (Oppenheimer, 1997).
·      “A mental shift is required of teacher, schooling administrative culture must change, new pedagogical practices must be incorporated, and many other intangibles much be transformed for the computing revolution to occur,” (Amiel, 2006).  
·      Computers are not necessary to promote pedagogical change toward a student-centered classroom or project-based learning (Amiel, 2006).
My Response:
The critics of educational technology are apprehensive to accept educational technology because they believe that computer-based instruction is one-sided and ineffective. There must be a pedagogical base to build an understanding of how students learn and how technology can support and assess learning (Honey, Mandinach, & McMillian Culp, 2003).  Additionally, here is a need to emphasize content and pedagogy, not just hardware requirements (Honey, Mandinach, & McMillian Culp, 2003). Despite the critics concerns, computer-based instruction does have the ability to individualize the educational process to accommodate the need, interests, proclivities, current knowledge, and learning styles of the student (Schacter, 1999).  Technology is not the final destination; discovering new ways of teaching with technology is the goal.  By paying attention to the learner, the learning environment, professional competency, systems capacity, community connections, technology capacities, and accountability, technology will be kept in service to learning (Schacter, 1999).  Critics fear that technology in the classroom will teach children to process sequentially like a computer rather than construct knowledge creatively.  On the contrary, technology is triggering changes away from lecture-driven instruction and toward constructivist, inquiry-oriented classrooms (Honey, Mandinach, & McMillian Culp, 2003). 
To cope with the demands of the 21st century, learners need to know more than just core subjects.  We need to know how to use and apply our skills such as: thinking critically, applying knowledge to new situations, analyzing information, comprehending new ideas, communicating, collaborating, solving problems, and making decisions (Honey, Mandinach, & McMillian Culp, 2003).  Technology is no longer being taught in isolation, it can be seen within classroom amongst several disciplines.  Technology is increasingly seen as not an isolated addition to curriculum, but as one of a number of tools that might be used to support a process of comprehensive curricular reform (Honey, Mandinach, & McMillian Culp, 2003).

Teaching teachers:
·      Teachers are still teaching in a traditional way and do not know how to translate this to the Internet.  This is why course platforms have taken off but true e-learning has not emerged (Massy & Zemsky, 2004).
·      Teacher themselves may be infrequent users of new technologies (Amiel, 2006). 
·      Some educators worry that children will concentrate on how to manipulate software instead of on the subject at hand. For example, simulations are built on hidden, oversimplified, questionable assumptions (Oppenheimer, 1997).
·      Computerized learning forces teachers to adjust their teaching style and critics believe that sometimes it can be worsened by these changes (Oppenheimer, 1997).
·      Despite an abundance of new technology equipment and financial support teachers will still struggle with technology (Oppenheimer, 1997).

My Response:
A major and valid concern of critics of educational technology is the lack of experience, support, and professional development that teachers using technology possess.  Both positive and negative teacher attitudes toward technology can affect the success of educational technology implementation in the classroom. Professional development is a crucial element in any coordinated approach to improving technology uses in schools. Students whose teachers received professional development on computers showed gains in math scores of up to 13 weeks above grade level (Schacter, 1999). “Educators implementing technology in the classroom have redefined the boundaries of the school building and the school day, improved the quality and accessibility of the administrative data that informs their work, and fostered the learning of core content and the development of students’ skills as communicators, researchers, and critical consumers,” (Honey, Mandinach, & McMillian Culp, 2003).  Honey, Mandinach, & McMillian Culp (2003) recommend that schools must provide more sustained high quality professional development and overall support for teachers seeking to innovate and grow in this domain.  They also ascertain that there is a strong need for new teacher training methods to be developed and the need to attract more able candidates to the teaching profession (Honey, Mandinach, & McMillian Culp, 2003).

Money Problems:
·      Great amounts of money have been invested in e-learning yet a viable market has not emerged (Massy & Zemsky, 2004).
·      Money saved in employing adjuncts is put into a significant investment in developing, maintaining, and upgrading the IT department.  This includes the hardware, software, and staff (Goode, 2004).
·      The majority of distance learning courses are being taught by adjunct professors rather than permanent faculty members.  These adjuncts cost 15-20% of what a full time faculty member would (Goode, 2004).
·      Even in the richest of nations, computers are oversold yet underused (Amiel, 2006).
·      This extra IT growth contributes to a new level of bureaucracy that manages the IT infrastructure. IT staff is the “gate-keeper” of distance learning in universities (Goode, 2004).
·      The cost of the new IT infrastructure is driving up the costs of tuition.  The technology most often shifts the cost from faculty lines to IT and bureaucracy rather than cutting costs as predicted (Goode, 2004).
·       School systems are cutting arts programs and shifting resources into computers.  (Oppenheimer, 1997).
·      Classrooms are now the site of business lobbyist. These tech business lobbyists are often guided by labor-market needs that turn out to be transitory. “This is one reason that school traditionalists push for broad liberal-arts curricula, which they feel develop students' values and intellect, instead of focusing on today's idea about what tomorrow's jobs will be,” (Oppenheimer, 1997).

My Response:
The critics of educational technology believe that too much money has been invested in technology while other programs suffer unwarranted budget cuts.  More than $40 billion dollar has been invested in infrastructure, professional development, and technical support (Honey, Mandinach, & McMillian Culp, 2003).  According to Honey, Mandinach, and McMillian Culp (2003) there is a strong need to create additional funding to establish an adequate level of technology and training in schools.  In addition, technological literacy has been of great importance in recent legislation.  This literacy includes the ability to use computers to communicate, locate and manage information, and use these tools to support the learning content of “other basics,” (Honey, Mandinach, & McMillian Culp, 2003).  An investment in educational technology is an investment in our future.  “Technology is the embodiment and the means of much of the social and economic change in the past century,” (Honey, Mandinach, & McMillian Culp, 2003).  However, there is a great need to develop long-range plans for sustainable technology investment, which can only come from a collaboration with the private sector and the local community (Honey, Mandinach, & McMillian Culp, 2003).

·      No real research can be done on the effect of e-learning because no agency counts how many online courses are offered as a part of a regular institution’s curriculum or how much is spent on e-learning (Massy & Zemsky, 2004).
·      The computer is seen as an “amplifier” because it encourages enlightened study practices as well as thoughtless ones.  Critics fear that thoughtless practices will dominate and slowly dumb down many of today’s youth (Oppenheimer, 1997).

My Response:
The efficacy of educational technology has been criticized in recent literature.  The critics believe that not enough research has been done on the efficacy of educational technology.  According to Schacter (1999), “On average students who used computer based-instruction scored at the 64th percentiles on tests of achievement compared to students in the control condition without computers who scored in the 50th percentile.”  Students with computer-based instruction like their classes more and develop more positive attitudes when their classes include computer-based instruction (Schacter, 1999).  Honey, Mandinach, and McMillian Culp (2003) recommend that more empirical studies be designed to determine which approaches to the use of technology are in fact more effective.  They also see a need to increase and diversify research, evaluation, and assessment as well as review, revise, and update regulations and policy that affect in-school use of technology (Honey, Mandinach, & McMillian Culp, 2003).
Improving Interaction and Educational Gains:
·      Students want human interaction and the self-expression that distance learning cannot provide (Massy & Zemsky, 2004).
·      E-learning has become word processing and Internet searches (Amiel, 2006).
·      Word-processing programs encourage students to haphazardly place together sentences using cut-and-paste as well as research without thinking (Oppenheimer, 1997).
·      Students may end up utilizing "procedural thinking," similar to the way a computer processes information (Oppenheimer, 1997).
·      Computers suffer frequent breakdowns.  Even if they do work, computers will distract students with their imagery and make it difficult for teachers to make connections with students (Oppenheimer, 1997).
·      Computers will direct students’ away from social interactions.  Computers will never be able to accurately show students what experience or sensation is (Oppenheimer, 1997).
·      Enthusiasm for the computer sends the message that the virtual world is more important than the real world (Oppenheimer, 1997). 
·      Interacting with the computer may mean missed opportunities for be detrimental to the development of the young plastic brain. “Fundamental neural substrates for reasoning may be jeopardized for children who lack proper physical, intellectual, or emotional nurturance,” (Oppenheimer, 1997).

My Response:
The critics of educational technology propose that technology in the classroom distracts from face-to-face interaction.  They also believe that students will be unable to create connections with teachers while their social development and educational gains will be stifled.  However, according Schacter (1999) students in technology rich environments experience a positive effect on achievement in all major subject areas.  Further more, higher order uses of computers and professional development are positively related to students’ academic achievement in mathematics for both 4th and 8th grade students (Schacter, 1999).  With technology, students learn more in less time (Schacter, 1999).  Additionally, Schacter (1999) states that, “Students’ attitudes toward learning and their own self-concept improved consistently when computers were used for instruction.”  Despite the critics’ claims, new learning experiences require higher-level reasoning and problem solving skills (Schacter, 1999).

Digital Divide and Equity:
·      Diffusion of technology creates disparities in access and ownership; hence, the digital divide (Amiel, 2006).
·      Integration of computing technologies is not an effective way to promote equality (Amiel, 2006).
·      As a new generation of technology rolls through, another age of technologically “unfortunate” citizens is crated with each wave (Amiel, 2006).
·      Even with access to the Internet, digital disparities will not disappear (Amiel, 2006).

My Response:
The last criticism of educational technology is that the increasing technologies in the classroom create a world of technology-haves and have-nots.  According to Honey, Mandinach, and McMillian Culp (2003) having enough technology infused in schools would be the first step toward the widespread and effective use of educational technology hence, slowly bridging the digital divide.  Technology accessibility is at the heart of closing the digital divide. “Accessibility not only refers to physical accessibility but also to access to relevant and appropriate content, to adequate support and training, and the ability to make use of technology to create and consume information and ideas,” (Honey, Mandinach, & McMillian Culp, 2003).  The critics argue that hardware will not solve the technological inequalities; only technology literacy can be a long-term solution. Increasing the technological literacy of the public would improve decision making, increase citizen participation, support a modern workforce, enhancing social well-being, and narrow the digital divide (Honey, Mandinach, & McMillian Culp, 2003).  The world that we inhabit is rapidly changing and our students will be entering a job force that not even we can foresee.  “The ability to expect and adapt to change is fundamental to success in the job market and to active citizenship,” (Honey, Mandinach, & McMillian Culp, 2003).


Amiel, T. (2006). Mistaking computers for technology: Technology literacy and the digital divide. AACE Journal, 14(3), 235-256.
Goode, B. (2004). Unintended consequences: Distance learning and the structure of the university. Distance Education Report. Madison, WI.
Honey, M. Mandinach, E. & McMillian Culp, K. (2003). A retrospective on twenty years of education technology policy. U.S. Department of Education.

Massy, W. & Zemsky, R. (2004). Thwarted innovation: What happened to e-learning and why. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania.
Oppenheimer, T. (1997). The computer delusion. The Atlantic Monthly, 280(1) 45-62.
Schacter, J. (1999). The impact of education technology on student development: What the most current research has to say. Milken Exchange: Santa Monica, CA.

Here is a video I made to personally respond to the critics of educational technology.  Enjoy!

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