Another dot in the blogosphere?

Bitter legacy?

Posted on: May 18, 2021

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I was a bit disappointed that respected educator, Larry Cuban, decided to air the concerns of a scholar, Rick Hess, who is from the American Enterprise Institute and director of Education Policy Studies.

My disappointment aside, the piece is worth the read.

Hess had opinions that probably carry some weight for a likeminded readership. For instance: 

Tech isn’t a replacement for the human face of schooling; at its best, it augments and supplements it. The goal is to give teachers more time and energy to get to know their students, to put a hand on a shoulder, to ask the right question, to engage a disengaged learner. It’s hard to do all that in the best of circumstances—it’s that much tougher when schools are using tech to normalize remote learning, asynchronous days, or eyeballs glued to devices.

Hess considered these to be a bitter pandemic legacy for schooling. To be fair, Hess seemed to be concerned about technology being used for its own sake and driving change that does not change teaching and learning for the better. I share that concern.

But I worry about the dichotomy of thought. The split is that technology is only for enhancing and not for enabling. Why can’t edtech be used to engage, encourage, and help create cognitive dissonance?

Taking a step back, the desperate push to use edtech during the pandemic might have created some semblance of continuity in schools. With this push came quick answers like adopting current technologies, shortening school days/weeks, and redesigning curricula.

But what are the important questions we should have asked and should still be asking? For example, why is the use of technology a second-best option or even a last resort? How might edtech be integrated into everyday schooling so that it enables learning rather than just enhancing teaching? What is not right about returning to normal? How might we change for the better?

The pandemic is an opportunity to rethink what it means to school, educate, teach, and learn. It would a bitter legacy if we keep relegating technology-mediated teaching and learning to second class.

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