ERIC Number: EJ1062597
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Reference Count: N/A
Outside the Skinner Box: Can Education Technology Make a Course Correction?
Stager, Gary S.
Independent School, v74 n2 Win 2015
Gary S. Stager is the coauthor of "Invent To Learn--Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom," founder of "Constructing Modern Knowledge," special assistant to the head of school for innovation at the Willows Community School (California), and a teacher educator. In this article he begins by describing and debunking two commonly-repeated tropes about educational technology impeding progress and clouding judgment. The first myth is that technology is neutral, which he holds to be false. Stager illuminates this myth by pointing out that in schools, all hardware and software bestow agency on one of three parties: the system, the teacher, or the learner, and that typically two of these actors lose their power as the technology benefits the third. Management software, school-wide grade-book programs, integrated learning systems, school-to-home communication packages, massive open online courses (MOOCs), and other cost-cutting technologies grant maximum benefit to the system. Interactive whiteboards, worksheet generators, projectors, whole-class simulations, plagiarism software, and so on, benefit the teacher. Personal laptops, programming languages, creativity software, cameras, MIDI keyboards, microcontrollers, fabrication equipment, and personal web space primarily benefit the learner. The second myth is that technology changes constantly. Here, Stager also disagrees and laments the fact that much of what schools do with technology is exactly the same, or less than, what they did 25 years ago. Wordles, note taking, looking stuff up, word processing essays, and making PowerPoint presentations on topics students don't care about for audiences they'll never encounter represent the typical state of-the-art in far too many classrooms. Stanger advances the idea that schools can do better by students, and that we live in a historic moment in which new technologies, with enormous potential for giving power back to the learner, are emerging. At the core, these technologies connect timeless craft traditions (learning-by-doing) and remarkable technological progress in a fashion accessible to learners of all ages and affordable for schools. These innovative materials, hardware, and software fuel unprecedented learning opportunities. Necessary traits for schools to make the most of opportunities to maximise the power of computers as intellectual laboratories and vehicles of self-expression are also detailed.
Descriptors: Misconceptions, Educational Technology, Technology Uses in Education, Power Structure, Computer Software, Computers, Relevance (Education), Motivation, Access to Computers, Programming, Professional Development, Teaching Methods, Parent Attitudes, Teacher Attitudes, Student Attitudes
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
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