Regularity and use of computers = no guarantee! Response to Larry Cuban and Steve Hardagon interview

For Week 1 of my online class, I listened to Steve Hardagon’s (@stevehargadon) 2006 interview with Larry Cuban on “Oversold and underused: Computers in the classroom” http://bit.ly/lXvvsH.

(full URL: http://audio.edtechlive.com/LarryCuban.mp3)

Cuban says, “Abundant access does not guarantee regularity and use, and certainly there is no guarantee that regularity and use produce the desired outcomes.”

What are the desired outcomes? Cuban mentions job skills, civic engagement, and socialization as some possibilities. I see the direct connection between computer use and these outcomes… but it requires quite a bit of work and dedication from the teacher.  What does our “regularity and use” look like? Are our interactions with and use of computers helping us move towards these goals?

Some teachers and administration say that educational technology is so expensive and difficult to maintain- from the purchasing of equipment to professional development.  Yet Cuban and Hargadon both point out that there are school boards/districts that literally pour money into educational technology.  I must ask – it is effectively utilized?

Sometimes, computers are merely used by teachers for administrative/logistical purposes (emails, research, lesson plans). Sometimes, it is used for Powerpoint/videos – sort of like a technological add-on or pseudo-replacement to direct teaching.  At times, teachers will have students use computers for what would be typically done with a pencil and paper (word processing/editing/blog instead of handwritten response journal).  Then there are the few cases where teachers will embrace what computers for online interactivity –  dialogue with the class/community/school/globally.  They will teach how to navigate and participate online thoughtfully and responsibly, ever aware of the complex nature of the internet.  It’s a complex endeavour; I think this is why teachers often shy away from it.  It’s easier to abandon computers, use it on an ad-hoc basis, or for superficial uses than embrace computers’ possibilities in the classroom.

Cuban does mention there is a small minority of teachers who embrace and incorporate computers effectively for teaching and learning. I find it quite a shame – the possibilities are so rich and endless!

P.S.  I am now going to read Cuban’s book!

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