As Howard Rheingold notes,
The technology affords an environment in which students [can] take on more of the power and responsibility for their own learning.
But we don’t see that. Instead, we see
a hype-and-bust cycle that goes back to the personal computer. Look at all the marvelous things technology is going to do! And then it doesn’t happen.
And the reason, as Rheingold correctly identifies, is
the secret, or maybe not so secret, agenda, which is that the classroom is really for teaching compliance. That was useful when societies were transforming from agrarian to industrial, but it’s less than useful in a world where you’re going to need to be thinking critically about the information you find.
And there we have – all tidy and neat – the biggest barrier to effective technology integration in today’s schools, even in those 1:1 environments that provide computing devices for every student. We could be (should be!) utilizing technology to empower youth at school but instead it’s still about control. That’s why we have acceptable use policies, not empowered use policies. And that’s why in most classrooms we continue to see replicative uses of technology rather than transformative uses. It doesn’t matter that computers are the most powerful learning devices ever invented in all of human history if we’re afraid to lets kids fly.
Fear is a prison. And empowerment within tightly-constrained, adult-directed parameters isn’t really empowerment.
[Guiding question: What can we do to give students more agency and ownership of what they learn, when they learn, how they learn, and how they show what they’ve learned?]
Image credit: Fear is a prison