How Not to Implement Online Technology in K-12 Schools!

Dear Commons Community,

The New York Times has an article today on how not to implement a large-scale technology initiative  in a state using Idaho as its case study.   The initiative was undertaken:

“Last year, when 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 idea was to establish Idaho’s schools as a high-tech vanguard.”

To help pay for these programs, the state may have to shift tens of millions of dollars away from salaries for teachers and administrators. And the plan envisions a fundamental change in the role of teachers, making them less a lecturer at the front of the room and more of a guide helping students through lessons delivered on computers.

This change is part of a broader shift that is creating tension — a tension that is especially visible in Idaho but is playing out across the country. Some teachers, even though they may embrace classroom technology, feel policy makers are thrusting computers into classrooms without their input or proper training. And some say they are opposed to shifting money to online classes and other teaching methods whose benefits remain unproved.”

It is the classic case of buying the hardware and software but neglecting the support services and training required to use the technology.  The teachers are in open revolt against the initiative with a number of students supporting the teachers.  They have held protests at the state capitol and having successfully collected 75,000 signatures for statewide referendum to repeal the initiative that will be held next November.

Idaho State Senator Dean L. Cameron, a Republican, is supporting the teachers.  As co-chairman of the senate budget committee, he said there was no proof that the technology improved learning and felt the legislature was “dazzled” by presentations given by lobbyists for high-tech companies.

To be fair, some teachers and school administrators support the initiative but they appear to be in the minority.



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