This month Fast Company magazine has published a cover story ‘A is for App’ on technology in (and out of) the classroom. While the article has an obviously pro-tech spin, it’s a fascinating look at several projects (mainly US) that are exploring how evolving technologies are being used to improve learning outcomes and access.
The article focuses on the technologies and the innovators, but the last few paragraphs provide some interesting context in terms of the educational environment;
“…the biggest challenge tp [personal learning devices] may not be the business model. The same possibilities that make these technologies – the sight of [kids] pushing the buttons, controlling their own destiny – make them threatening to the status quo. A system built around tools that allow children to explore and figure things out for themselves would be radical for most developing-world schools, which emphasize learning by rote. In the United States, which is currently in love with state curriculum benchmarks and standardized tests, it could be hard to sell as well.
“What is at issue is a deep cultural shift, a fundamental rethinking not only of how education is delivered but also of what ‘education’ means. The very word comes form the Latin duco, meaning ‘to lead or command’ – putting the learner in a passive position. …
“This idea [of ‘putting children in the driver’s seat’], common among these tech-driven educational entrepreneurs, imagines a new role for teachers. ‘The main transformational change that needs to happen is for the teacher to transform from purveyor of information to coach. … Up until very recently, most communications were hub-and-spoke, one to many. The Internet is a many-to-many environment, which is in the early stages of having a major impact on education. It involves a fairly major change in the concept of what education is, which is one of the reasons we use the term ‘learning’ as distinct from ‘education’. It’s student-centered and student-empowered'”
– Anna Kamenetz in Fast Company, Issue 144, p.77
‘in love with state curriculum benchmarks and standardized tests’? Makes you feel just like home 😉