Friday, February 09, 2007

Gates on Learning with technology

Bill Gates spke last month at the Microsoft Government Leaders forum and talked about how technology will transform learning. Gates stated that the teacher is still a critical piece of the puzzle and that providing teachers in IT training is important. I think that almost all educators agree with this philosophy to some point. However, there is something that he said at the conference that is even more significant, and something that I think that we all need to pay heed to:
"We need to be humble in making predictions of how technology will affect education," Gates said, because people made big predictions about how TVs, video tapes and software would influence education that haven't come true.
I think that his comment is, as the British would say, spot on. Too often developments such as TV, laser discs and the such have been labeled 'silver bullets' that would revolutionize teaching and learning, only to fizzle out. Computers, technology, the internet and the such have been previously seen as the be all and end all of educational reform. The results have been far from what was hoped/promised, and there are those that quickly point to the failures in order to justify cuts to educational technology. We know that technology can improve the quality of teaching and learning, but we must avoid labeling it as an immediate solution. the transformation that technology can and will have on the entire educational process will take hard work, time, patience and money.
We need to be in this for the long haul and not promise magical overnight success.


Jim Crittenden said...

KUSD just bought into Gaggle email, an online, filtered (strongly filtered) suite of email, blog, chat, message board, and "digital locker". I am piloting it with the 7th grade, and have found it to be one of the missing keys to the whole thing. The students have just completed two paperless assignments. One was a geometry vocabulary project, finding 48 definitions using the internet. The other one was filling in a table of average temperatures of selected locales. Very cool. Gaggle is easy to use, and has a mild learning curve. I set up a dropbox- just like the college courses- and the students upload their work to it. The digital locker feature is great. I don't work for Gaggle. But I will say that at about $5 per students per year (e-rate funds will pay), it's pretty nice to have.

AZW88 said...

Thanks, Jim.