Friday, April 10, 2009

The Flickering Mind

The Flickering Mind: Saving Education from the False Promise of Technology by Todd Oppenheimer is an interesting piece of investigative reporting that all educational technologists should read. You might remember Oppenheimer from his The Computer Delusion published back in 97 in the Atlantic.

Whether you think this work is an unfair witch hunt or a well done piece of reporting to me is not the main point. With the pressures on education to "fix what is broken" and the ever present temptations new technologies bring, Oppenheimer revels many of the failed attempts education has had with the latest technology.

Over 30 years I have deployed technology in an educational setting and done a lot of advising local schools districts. I now find myself at a point in life where I am reflecting on my life's work. Page after page of this book echos my experiences and frustrations with spending huge sums of money on the latest gadget and having little or nothing to show for it. Critics of this work need to be held to the same standards they hold Oppenheimer to. Find examples where technology deployment has REALLY improved education and articulate them. Honestly, I can't find many such cases in my career.

Love or hate this book, read it and take it to heart.


Amy said...

Strong words, but they needed to be said!

I recently tutored my babysitter in her geometry class. She wants to be a pediatrician, so she's a motivated student. They have a new 'smart board' at her school, so lectures go much faster. They can't keep up with the notes, let alone engage mentally in what is being said.

Jim G. said...

Thanks for caring enough about what I write to comment. Are "smart boards" really better pedagogy? The makers of these would have us think so. See this study Or this one. But Peter Kent has done some research on these that seems a little more unbiased to me. If you Google him you can find some of his research.