A 2016 academic study divided 167 West Point students of a sophomore economics class into three groups: those who could use a laptop or tablet at will in class; those who could use a tablet but only flat on their desk face up; and those students who were not permitted to use any computer device at all in class.
At the end of the course, what group did better?
Hands down, the students who used no device significantly outperformed their peers. The two other groups performed equally badly by comparison.
The authors of this study speculate that these results would likely be more pronounced in younger students and among those who are less motivated to succeed. seii-discussion-paper-2016-02-payne-carter-greenberg-and-walker-2-1
Yet here we go with a multi-million dollar technology plan
This is a deeply disturbing conclusion because Timberlane is going headlong into a multi-million dollar technology plan to put a computer device in the hands of every student at Timberlane from Kindergarten to 12th grade. The teachers are also getting wrapped up in wifi. We will be putting a computer projector and interactive whiteboard in every classroom, too.
When the school board made this precipitous decision a few weeks ago, I asked for some evidence that technology in the classroom was making academic improvements. Crickets.
Dependence on technology is handicapping our children
What’s worse is that we are stripping our children of the ability to take handwritten notes when they get to college. Note taking at the speed necessary during lectures is possible only with cursive writing – and even better when sprinkled with some shorthand. By replacing cursive writing with keyboarding, our children will have one less skill with which to pull away from technology for their own benefit.
Does technology really help teachers?
The few times I have gotten to see technology demonstrated in the school environment, endless time has been spent setting up and then figuring out why it wasn’t working. I suspect teachers spend way more time making technology work which cannot help but take away from their primary instruction time – not to mention the time they spend preparing for lessons mediated by technology.
We hear so much about technologically aided “response to instruction.” We’ve had STAR for a few years yet our 11th grade reading scores are still below state average. Thankfully math scores have edged above the state average this year though we’ve yet to regain our 2013 glory.
When something isn’t working despite buckets of money and a significant investment in professional development, isn’t it time to question our fundamental direction? Let’s try something radical and take devices out of the classrooms entirely. One good thing would happen at once: there would be no more movies.