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Description: The digital push here aims to go far beyond gadgets to transform the very nature of the classroom, turning the teacher into a guide instead of a lecturer, wandering among students who learn at their own pace on Internet-connected devices.

Source: NYT.com

Date: Sept 8, 2011

This conundrum calls into question one of the most significant contemporary educational movements. Advocates for giving schools a major technological upgrade — which include powerful educators, Silicon Valley titans and White House appointees — say digital devices let students learn at their own pace, teach skills needed in a modern economy and hold the attention of a generation weaned on gadgets.

Some backers of this idea say standardized tests, the most widely used measure of student performance, don’t capture the breadth of skills that computers can help develop. But they also concede that for now there is no better way to gauge the educational value of expensive technology investments.

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Questions for discussion:

  1. What are best arguments in favor of investing in the “classroom of the future”?
  2. What are best arguments in  against investing in the ”classroom of the future”?
  3. Should Canada have a policy of creating the classroom of the future in all our public schools?

10 Responses to “In Classroom of Future, Stagnant Scores”

  1. Kristin Schneider

    1. The world is constantly changing in the way we work, go to school, and even function at home. The latest and newest change is technology. Computers can easily enhance our learning process in school in multiple ways. The computer can essentially be the new tutor. The teacher isn’t always available for a student falling behind. If they need extra help, the computer will always be there, repeating anything that needs to be repeated until the student learns, at their own pace. And this is not only limited to the classroom, technology is global, it costs nothing to communicate with someone in another country. You can’t teach that kind of interaction. Every student should have the opportunity to gain extra assistance if needed, and this is the logical explanation to that. I know plenty of older people that have no idea how to use a computer. Well sad to say, that this is the day and age, and if you can’t use a computer, over half of your opportunities are out the window. So in addition to a great learning tool for all students, this is also simply what they have to know in order to succeed in society. To communicate, to check the weather, to research, to apply for a job; an extensive knowledge of a computer could never be a harm.

  2. Christopher Rush

    I couldn’t agree more with the idea of students learning at their own pace coupled with and enhanced by the use of technology. The very technology that has found it’s was into every aspect of lives and to which we have become so dependant upon. I love the idea of students learning at their own pace because, though it may hurt the feelings of some people, not everyone is equal. It is an undisputable fact that age has less correlation and absolutly no causation to the “grade level” a child should be placed in. We all knew that one kid that was bumped up a grade because he was ahead of the rest, and so it should be. Why hold back potential? why do we still have the same method of producing high school graduates off an institutional assembaly line, the way we have for centuries. It’s time for a revolution in the way we educate and facilitate development and I think that technology is the answer. If a child can develope at his or her own pace, then I think it is fair to say that that is the optimal pace that particular child should develop at as we are all so different.

  3. Thomas Davies

    What are best arguments in favor of investing in the “classroom of the future”?

    I think a large majority of people today realize the importance of being technologically educated by using computers and software at an early age. Having students use technology in the classroom at an early age I think is a great idea, but I also believe there should be a level of technology used. Having students complete their work by using tools from “classroom of the future” will give an advantage to gain knowledge and understanding of such tools which we all know will be strongly needed in the future. I also think that a computer will give a student the opportunity to have a readily able resource for when there are none present. How easy is it to wiki, google or search for anything with lightning fast results which are more than usually informative.

    A possible downfall to this concept could be that students may not be interacting in the traditional way of lecturing and teaching. Definitely having a computer is a useful tool, but I still am in favor with writing, processing and learning in the way we have always taught ourselves. Our success and progression throughout history does not lie.

  4. Regan Smiley

    It seems as though technology really is taking over the world in the day and age we are living in today. The fact of the matter is that technology surrounds us all in our day to day life and school really should be no different. What better way to learn the new improved ways to do things then in a classroom with a teacher to aid you.

    However we need to get serious here. This so-called “school of the future” is really nothing more than an excuse for kids to play around all day instead of learn actual knowledge. They wonder why the test scores of these kids are going down when they spend all day creating facebook pages for Shakespeare. Another thing we really need to consider when looking at the information in this article is the fact that we are laying off teachers and cutting important programs like arts and physical education in order to put this technology in. The programs are essential for young people to grow into adults.

    Another thing is it is crazy to think that all schools would even be able to afford putting this into their schools. Some areas of the country have more money than others and it wouldn’t be right to put into place manditory “schools of the future.”

    All in all I would say this is a pretty good idea but that’s all it should be is an idea. Until they can find a way to make this work it should stay out of our classrooms.

  5. Taylor W

    I agree with the idea of the classroom of the future to some degree. Students should absolutely be educated with the use of computers. Computer skills are vital in the world today as technology has worked it’s way into all aspects of our lives, and without exposure to computers one could easily get left behind. Technology can enhance education to a great degree when used properly by encouraging involvement and allowing fast and convenient access to information.
    I do feel though that technology should not come at the expense of teachers jobs, or art and physical education. Students need to experience the joys of reading a physical book, or enjoy a tangible work of art. Too much technology in the classroom could potentially be distracting for students and could hinder the development of proper social skills such as how to behave in a class setting and how to interact with other people.

  6. Erin Mitchell

    Some arguements that would be ‘for’ investing in the classroom of the future would be that with technology developing at the rate that it is, children who are growing up in this generation should be taught how to use the technology in the schools. I agree with this but only to a certain extent. The skills that you gain from writing out math problems and reading from a book are now missing. For me, while I was struggling through math class, I know that by writing out the math problem, getting it wrong, then erasing and trying again helped me to understand what I was doing wrong and how to do it the correct way. I do not enjoy conducting math problems on computers. I find it confusing and frusterating. With regards to reading, kids are learning how to read on computers and other technical devices. I am not a fan of reading on a computer screen. But in all honesty, I am comfortable with the “simple” way of doing and learning things. It is hard for me to put into perspective how it is for children who are growing up in this generation with all of this technology at hand.

  7. Randy Bonham

    When reading through this article i was very surprised to see that there was no direct evidence to support increasing technological availability in school. I can see the arguments that some people make for creating high tech classrooms. While it may not appear in standardized tests it is itself educating kids in the uses of technology which has become an essential skill in most work places. In this fashion high tech classrooms are valuable to the education of young people. I also thought we depend entirely to much on standardized testing, and could be true that the benefits received by children in high tech classrooms can’t be quantified in tradition terms; however until an alternative scale is introduced this seems to be the only good way to correlate data.
    The two best argument against the high tech classroom that i noticed both related back to cost benefit analysis. The first was the previously mentioned lack of correlation with success, and the second was the idea that they could be spending this money in better places.
    If i were the one making the decision i wouldn’t dedicate as much money to the improvement of technology in classroom as i would toward the teachers. From my experience its the teacher not the text book or in this case the laptop that makes the difference.

  8. Blair Watkins

    This is an interesting article. The whole time i read it I couldn’t help but think of the reasons to not adopt the program and the technologies in school districts.
    – First and foremost the expense of the program. It is very costly to integrate so much technology in school, even five times the amount previously spent on books. Another problem is that technology never takes long to run it’s course before something bigger and better comes out. This means that these technologies will always need upgrading or replacing which means that it will always be a more expensive education.
    – Another problem is that grades have been affected negatively with the change. With all of the budget cuts fewer teachers are being hired which i believe would have a direct affect on learning because there is less interaction because classes are considerably larger.
    – It sounds like a lot of people are putting to much faith in the classroom of the future because it sounds like a neat idea, but proof is in the pudding and the proof isn’t there yet.

  9. Brenn Smith

    If there is no concrete evidence that upgrading the technology is actually advancing a students learning capacity then what is the point of spending millions to do this and cause more kids to not be in school because they can’t afford it? I do think there has to be technology in the classroom, that is a given in the time we live in, but why give kids computers more advanced then what they are going to need to do their school projects? These are learning instruments; though I do see the need for better computers in the future most schoolwork is done on Microsoft office (even on a post secondary level). On the other side though a student can become more engaged when technology is involved, though it also can lead to a distraction. I know given the “slow” computers of when I grew up were used we always found ways to avoid actually doing work in class and would end up using our computers at home. This would be a major issue for me in that the new computers have more capabilities to learn but not always in a good way. My vote then would be necessities for teachers to present to their students and for students to accomplish their assignments.

  10. patricia ojuderi

    in favor of investing in the “classroom of the future” it means that student will better understand the world of technology at an earlier age and know how to navigate their way around it. if it works student would be learning at their own pace and not that of the teacher. they would be able to help their friends in a practical way which in turn improves their understanding.

    against investing in the ”classroom of the future” students may decide to slack off because they assume it should be easy and if they find out it isn’t then they dont want to do it. they may also think that since the learning is at their own pace it would be a good excuse for slacking off or not getting think done at the appointed time.

    i think canada should adopt the policy of creating the classroom of the future in all their public schools but only to an extent. all subjects would be taught by teachers and then students should have a appointed time to get educated on technology and its world. student can use it to better understand what has just been taught by the teacher.

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