Is Ed Tech Transforming How Teachers Teach?

Public schools now provide at least one computer for every five students. They spend more than $3 billion per year on digital content. And nearly three-fourths of high school students now say they regularly use a smartphone or tablet in the classroom.

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But a mountain of evidence indicates that teachers have been painfully slow to transform the ways they teach, despite that massive influx of new technology into their classrooms. The student-centered, hands-on, personalized instruction envisioned by ed-tech proponents remains the exception to the rule.

“The introduction of computers into schools was supposed to improve academic achievement and alter how teachers taught,” said Stanford University education professor Larry Cuban. “Neither has occurred.”

Indeed, a host of national and regional surveys suggest that teachers are far more likely to use technology to make their own jobs easier and to supplement traditional instructional strategies than to put students in control of their own learning. Case study after case study describe a common pattern inside schools: A handful of “early adopters” embrace innovative uses of new technology, while their colleagues make incremental or no changes to what they already do.

Researchers have identified numerous culprits, including teachers’ beliefs about what constitutes effective instruction, their lack of technology expertise, erratic training and support from administrators, and federal, state, and local policies that offer teachers neither the time nor the incentive to explore and experiment.

The net effect, said Leslie A. Wilson, CEO of the One-to-One Institute, a nonprofit based in Mason, Michigan, that has consulted with hundreds of schools and districts across the country and world, is that schools rarely realize the full promise of educational technology.

“There’s nothing transformative about every kid having an iPad unless you’re able to reach higher-order teaching and learning,” Ms. Wilson said.

Read more at Education Week.