Here's an interesting article on technology in - or in the case, not - the classroom.

 

A montessori school in the heart of Silicon Valley eschews technology until 8th grade, and even then it's limited.

 

I'm curious, what's the best use of technology you've seen in K-8? Do you think it really teaches?

Tags: Apple, Google, New, Silicon, Times, Valley, York, community, education, gearth, More…iPad, job, learning, student, teaching, technology

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Honestly, I can’t say that I’m surprised to hear this.  For the past twenty years we’ve adopted this kind of “shoot first, ask questions later” approach to bringing technology into the classroom.  We’ve spent billions on this initiative, but the research (from what I can tell, at least) is still shaky as whether or not this stuff is actually benefitting our students.   

 

I mean, look, I by no means believe that a classroom should be completely devoid of computers.  However, I do think that the representative from Google, whom the article quotes, is quite right.  Computers have gotten to the point where anybody, from 5 to 95, can use them.  The days of the command line interfaces are gone; now everything is point and click.  As a result, people can learn to use these things with a shocking amount of speed and ease.  It’s to the point where using a computer is like breathing –there’s not much to it.  But it’s those other skills, like critical thinking, creativity, or literacy, that can’t be taught quickly or through a Google search.  That’s the stuff that schools need to focus on.

 

A perfect example of this is this article where researchers designed a fake website about a tree-inhabiting octopus and then showed it to students.  The students reviewed it, and then said that the website was actually credible. 

 

Indeed, as good as technology is, I still think there is no substitution for a good teacher.  A good teacher can teach you from inside a paper bag, and you'd still come away learning.  In any case, I think to some extent technology teaches, we just can't allow ourselves to get so caught up with it that we stop seeing the forest from the trees.  

 

But, then again, maybe I'm wrong.  Maybe the article is just another case of billionaires being billionaires, and them willing to shell out big bucks so they can say that their children to go an exclusive school.                  

Ha! I like your take on the elitist angle of the school.

Of course I agree that it doesn't take computers to create a good learning experience. In fact, some of the best teaching I've done has been in a creek as students discovered benthic macro invertebrates.

However, I think computers allow teachers to do some very important things. First, they give access to an incredible amount of information that no school's library could match. Second, they give access to the real world, where life and all the lessons in it are happening. This allows tachers to apply what is happening in the real world to their lessons, making what is taught that much more meaningful. When use well, these two benefits of computers make them an essential tool for learning.

Still, two questions remain. First, at what age are computers a good idea to bring into the learning process?

Second, you mentioned that computers can't replace teachers. Well, I have learned from classes and videos online that were put together by people who I was not in direct contact with. Perhaps they were teachers, perhaps not. While teaching is essential to learning, what does the modern role of a teacher look like? In some cases it does not look like anything we have known so far.

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