The esteemed Diane Ravitch, who is always worth reading even when her focus can seem obsessed, wrote an article recently for Scientific American, reprinted today in Salon, entitled “Three Dubious Uses of Tech in Schools.” So what was I expecting? From my perspective, the issues around tech use in schools are things like Bring Your Own Device and the potential for over-dependence on technology. But those aren’t what Ravitch is writing about at all. Instead, she raises three entirely different issues:
- For-profit charter schools
- Automated grading of essays
- Storing “personal, confidential data about every public school student.”
OK, these are indeed troubling — very different from what I had been thinking, but definitely troubling. Ravitch summarizes with this paragraph:
Here is the conundrum: teachers see technology as a tool to inspire student learning; entrepreneurs see it as a way to standardize teaching, to replace teachers, to make money and to market new products. Which vision will prevail?
I certainly vote for inspiring student learning, not for standardizing teaching, replacing teachers, making money, and marketing new products. But I have no power here, and probably you don’t either. Everything I’ve written about technology in education over the past forty years has concentrated on student learning, so these other goals are something of a shock to me. Not that I’m so naive as to think that they don’t exist — it’s just that they don’t pop up on my radar screen. Maybe they should.