Friday, April 06, 2007

What do we want them to do?

The U.S. Department of Education has confirmed what I believe most teachers already knew, that programmed learning systems have little effect on student achievement. Now, there are those in the media and others that believe this is an indictment of the use of technology in education. To me it is the rallying cry that we need to change the types of technology we invest in for schools. I teach at a school that has a programmed learning system, there are those teachers that really like using it and others that think it is worthless. I find myself in between, seeing the advantages of having a system as a supplement to the traditional classroom instruction, but placing too much emphasis on the application to teach skills is misguided. The biggest issue I have with these types of systems is the cost. The system we use at our school intitally cost well over $100,000. There are also maintenance fees approching $10,000 a year. Training for your staff on how to implement the system in your school also has an additional cost. To me that is a waste! Over $100,000 to put in an old fashioned 'drill and kill' tutorial system. Outspending isn't the way to go! We need to out teach... but we need to teach teachers and students how to teach themselves! (Thanks to Kathy Sierra's Blog for the graphic above!)

So, we need to do more things to provide professional development to teachers to create activities that provide skills for students that utilize the tools they are already using. (Blogs, message boards, video sites, podcasts, etc.) As part of this process, we also need to provide lessons to teach students digital citizenship and ethics. As we engage students into the process, we begin to introduce the skills we want students to learn when using technoogy and the Internet as an educational asset.

This weekend there were two video's I saw online that introduce some of the issues that deal with these issues. The first is a video that describes how students are already engaged in using the media that is available to them to communicate and exchange information. I saw it posted on the School 2.0 site by Susan Brooks-Young, but it was produced by the MacArthur Foundation.

The second video I saw this weekend came from the AdCouncil and their Online Sexual Exploitation project. It is a good analogy of what really happens when you post personalized information online. The images really bring the point home for most kids.

So, what do you think... Should we spend more money on 'drill and kill' or do something that allows students to think, create and take responsibility for their own learning?

Any comments out there?

1 comment:

Karen Janowski said...

It is criminal to think of the waste of taxpayer's money investing in this type of software. How are decisions to invest in drill and kill software made? The initial investment alone should have caused administrators to think twice. And then to pay a yearly fee!
As you said, this research confirms what doesn't work.
Engagement works. Thinking works. Analysis works.
Too bad adminstration didn't analyze the options first.
(Thanks for the link to the MacArthur Foundation video. I saw the ad council video before - it gets its message across in a powerful way)