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January 11, 2012 / Thinknology

Idaho and Computers in the Classroom

Recently, the New York Times published an article titled Teachers Resist High-Tech Push in Idaho Schools. Last year, the state legislature overwhelmingly passed a law that requires all high school students to take some online classes to graduate, and that the students and their teachers be given laptops or tablets.

The policy makers want Idaho to take a leadership role in bringing technology into the classroom. To fund the initiative, they may be shifting funds away from educators’ salaries. Teachers are understandably opposed to this for reasons that go beyond financial. Most teachers don’t want technology forced into the classroom without providing the proper training or forcing a shift to teaching methods that are unproven. Others believe that the policy makers are in bed with the technology companies.

We agree with the educators, that you can’t have technology for technology’s sake. Yes, it is important and there is a wealth of knowledge on the Internet. But the question is how are teachers supposed to mine and sift through the information and make it accessible and meaningful for specific students in  specific situations?

As I’ve written before, there must be a blend of technology and content in order for teachers to implement the instruction into the learning environment. For example, there is a lot of content on the web for students to read and learn. However, someone must determine if the  readings are at the appropriate level, well-written, and have the practice around them to apply, practice, assess skills. Teachers should be teaching, not developing products.

I believe this is an unreasonable expectation for teachers, no matter how tech savvy they may be. Instead, developers of instructional materials should be developing the products that blend technology and content so teachers can incorporate them into the classroom.

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