Choose – and support – wisely

In the “Well, d’uh” category, read this article “State-of-the-art education software often doesn’t help students learn more, study finds“.

I’m sure that you can guess the content of the story without even heading over and reading it, although it would be a shame if you didn’t.  The article is focused on adaptive learning software at the university level but the observations and conclusions are appropriate for every level of education that provides software to students.  We’ve all read the claims about increased performance and results.  We have people pitching the story that “if you just buy this piece of software, your mathematics scores will go through the roof”.

Mathematics is particularly relevant here in Ontario.  But, on the same level, or perhaps even more fashionable is coding.  Or, just pick any subject area and look at the claims.

Or, if we could just go 1:1 or implement a BYOD, we’d be there.

If only it was that simple.  If only it could be done.  Heck, computers and technology and supportive software have been in the school system for over 30 years.  You’d think it would be a universal truth if it really worked.

There, indeed, as been shown improvement in some areas.  Technology and the software have delivered on the promise but not on the all-encompassing level.

Where does it succeed?

  • teachers

Where doesn’t it succeed?

  • teachers

When you have a teacher who knows her stuff and uses the technology appropriately, you can see fantastic results.  When you see a teacher who isn’t at the same level of enthusiasm or has other ways to teach the same material, technology doesn’t deliver.

It isn’t the teacher’s fault.  Take a look at those who make the decisions and buy the gear.  They have a computer bent, by nature, and often make the decision based on what they can do and how they learn or what they’ve read.

Does it really work in real life?  There are more variables than simply buying a tablet with a piece of software and casting it on the system.  If only the same level of implementation used for things like teaching how to do report cards was used for teaching/learning in the classroom, maybe there would be better success.

Ask any athlete how they achieved their success and the answer will be “practice, practice, practice – and a good, concerned, supportive coach”.  If a continual process of learning how to teach with technology isn’t in place, how can you expect the same results?

There are two lessons highlighted in the article.  For any school system at any level, those two need to be considered and answered.

What can you do to address them?

One thought on “Choose – and support – wisely

  1. Dan says:

    Very timely and thought provoking. I also think software is not automatically great software just because a giant company buys them out.

    Like

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