This is a reading reflection based upon the book “Rethinking education in the age of technology: the digital revolution and schooling in America (Collins & Halverson, 2009). The specific chapters that were read and the review is based upon are chapters 1, 2, 3, 6, 9 and 10.
Since this post is written in 2017, almost a decade later, the examples given seem to be dated. The question I had to ask myself the entire time is, “Do the antiquated examples and some of the content change the overall message of the book?”
If I were to summarize the book as simplistically as possible based upon the chapters I consumed, the summary would be that the authors are trying paint a picture that the traditional model of teaching and education is running conflict with the incoming technology that will help guide the future. If the schools do not innovate, there may be a future problem with American school systems in falling short in certain requirements needed for the students to be productive citizens of the United States and of the rest of the world. I partially agree with the innovation part. I think the American schools need to innovate. Even though technology pace is very fast compared to the monolith of our public school system, I feel that when needed the system can be agile enough to respond to important movements. It has in the past for things that have counted. It might have been slow to adopt changes at first but once a need has been shown to be crucial for development, the system has responded.
A reoccurring theme that I was at odds with and I wish I had more time to research was this idea of students being allowed to pursue their own interests. This sounds good in theory but in practice this cannot end well, particularly if the child is younger in age. I am open to the authors suggestions in allowing counseling in careers. There may also be the possibility for the teacher to give options to the students and give them the appearance of choice in what they are learning. Student only know what they know. Younger students do not know much. When a liberal arts experience is introduced to the students, it gives them options that they were not aware of at that moment. A liberal arts experience also opens the child to thinking processes that although may never be used in their everyday life but can certainly transfer to other thoughtful experiences. There was a quote taken from another study that said that high school students thought their instruction was, “boring and irrelevant”. How would a high school student know what is relevant and what is not? They are children who have not matured cognitively and have not experienced enough in life to have a good understanding of relevance. A good educator should be able to craft the course in such a way to give the student the perception of the content as being relevant. Technology can be a tool to do this but there are many others out there as well.
In addition, when AI becomes better, there may be value in giving suggestions to students like Amazon gives suggestions for products based upon the current state of the student. We are not at that point yet that I know of so this may not work in the time being.
There is value to “just in time learning”. I do this in my own classroom. The students will experience a physical phenomenon without teacher explanation and may times it will be up to them to do research to find out about it. The students will take ownership of obtaining greater understanding of the unknown event.
The authors’ discussion of “moving control away from centralized sources” I find interesting. This is still going on today even more than ever. I am interested to know if this does or will translate into education. As a fulltime school teacher, I do not see this yet. Except for some of my highly motivated students, there are very few that will take the time to go outside of the authority of the teacher and learn on his or her own. The student culture does not allow for this yet.
I tended to side with the skeptics in some ways. It is ironic because I teach a class in technology for teaching, a coding class and a game design class. I am VERY pro-technology. I come from the angle close to what the authors quoted from Larry Cuban, “situationally constrained choice.” The k-12 system cannot be forward thinking when the post-k-12 systems are not. With the exceptions of certain IT professions, there is not a need to be successful at them by being technology forward (technology proficient, yes). It could even be a detriment to the student that has a technologically forward k-12 experience but get to college with a whole other experience in the model of instruction and assessment.
After reading my reflection over again, I sound like one of those cranky anti-technology guys. I am far from it. Technology is one of many tools out there that can help the students grow to be strong citizens. There are so many other tools out there that can as well. As of the time of this writing, there does not appear to be any technology out there as of now that can be a revolution for the classroom environment. Good and strong teachers, giving sound pedagogical practices seem to be the safest bet. With dystopia future of computers and robots phasing out many jobs in the future, who know, because of my lack of technology understanding and forward thinking, I may be phased out as a teacher by one of them.
Collins, A., & Halverson, R. (2009). Rethinking education in the age of technology: the digital revolution and schooling in America.