The use of the term “technology enhancement” is fundamentally flawed. First definitions from dictionary.com:
1.to raise to a higher degree; intensify; magnify;
2.to raise the value or price of.
In schools this means purchasing a variety of techno gizmos so that teachers can teach the same way, moving overhead transparencies to slide shows. Teachers continue to drone away at the front of the classroom and students are forced to listen. The purchases of the devices have done nothing to change what happens in the nation’s classrooms.
Recently, I asked a teacher who was excited about his recent “technology enhancements” about whether it was good to purchase these devices if learning did not change. If students could learn just as well about Mexico with books and maps compared to learning the Internet and electronic resources, why should we make those purchases. He stated that teaching in the enhanced classroom was better. Who benefits by not changing instruction and learning?
This notion was accented by a recent news item on CBS News (video). Correspondent Steve Hartman reported on the success of Jim Hughes, a blind history teacher. The report describes how Hughes has learned to verbalize his subject to a high degree for his students that it captivates them. He has learned how to talk to kids.
In the report one student states about his other teachers, “They are blinded with the powerpoints and the handouts and all that. Every teacher should try a day with a blindfold and really learn how to talk to your students.” Now that’s a technology enhanced classroom.
The teacher is the most important piece of technology in a classroom.