“Educational technology has failed to move the needle on either cost effectiveness or student success in the past ten years…” - Brandon Busteed, Gallup Education
This is an astonishing thing to say at an education technology conference, but he went on to back up his statement with a boat load of facts that fit so well with the anecdotal experiences of the teachers in the room that many were nodding along with him.
With the magic ipad, Google Apps and wifi for everyone we must surely be personalizing education away from that industrialized factory model we all find so abhorrent. In this digital renaissance we are using our newly found access to information to individualize learning and cater to the needs of each child, right? Surely we aren't using it to create data from standardized testing. That would be like getting one of those new-fangled automobiles and then hooking your horse up to it so you could tow it into town and show it off.
|Since we're in a magical revolution of information technology,
it only follows that student success and cost effectiveness
are both improving, right? Like most statistics, this one is
completely fake - it was fun drawing the graph in prezi though
Pick your country, from strong performers like Finland and Canada to poorer countries struggling to reach the average, it appears Brandon is right, education technology isn't moving the needle, in fact it may be hurting more than it helps. That PISA numbers are at best inconsistent and at worse show a decline (especially in digitally focused countries) in the past eleven years should suggest that educational technology might not be as revolutionary as we suspect, or that we're doing it wrong.
There are a number of influences pushing down student scores. Ironically, many of them are also under the influence of the information revolution. Income disparity is increasing in large part because the world is recovering from an economic crisis inflicted on it by Wall Street quants who harnessed newly available digital technology to play an economic shell game on a global scale. Workers displaced in both economic and workplace digital disruption are not able to raise their children in the same socio-economic environment that they were raised in. The middle-class itself is evaporating as the wealthy harness digital connectivity to push wealth beyond the reach of governments; technology is amoral and caters to the needs of those who can afford it without consideration for right action. Socio-economic factors are one of the key indicators in student success and the vast majority of people in the world are poorer today than they were a decade ago.
That digital disruption seems to feed economic disparity on a systemic basis should be a cause of concern for everyone, but especially people in an egalitarian social project like education. Is digitization a tool of income disparity? I'm not sure that we've answered that question yet, though I'd argue that if we are creating consumers rather than hackers then yes, it is. Passive acceptance and integration of digitization is a recipe for a newly efficient kind of serfdom.
|This could as easily be the promise of edtech
Instead of complexifying and diversifying our understanding of pedagogy, educational technology is supporting a political push to drastically simplify it, and it's doing it under an onslaught of data and statistics. Had other examples of digital disruption led to that promised land of personalization, self expression and equality for everyone I might have hope, but as it stands, if you're just using it you're also just feeding its assumptions.
|The art of our times...
I've said it once and I'll say it again, unless we teach students how this technology we expect them to use works, we are laying the foundation for a new generation of systemic thinkers that will make factory formatted graduates look like an egalitarian dream. There was still space to be individual among the gears of the old regime, there is no space between the ones and zeroes of the new one.