Why Technology is No Quick “Fix” for Education

Flickr Image via frankieleon
Flickr Image via frankieleon

Many speak of technology’s potential to “fix” education. But if it can, the question is–why hasn’t it yet?

The tools for a digital revolution are there, and have been for quite some time. Twenty years ago, the possibility of a TV set in every classroom was supposed to utterly transform education, unite the world, and even replace teachers. (As children of the 90’s will attest, nothing made you happier than walking into the classroom and seeing that beautiful TV cart—Bill Nye and no homework!). And this was all before near-ubiquitous internet, Skype, and online courses put the world at our fingertips.

So why has there been so little, actual change? Last week, in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Kentaro Toyama discussed what calls technology’s Law of Amplification: In his experience, technology’s impact has a built-in limit: how well a system functions already. According to Toyama, “While technology helps education where it’s already doing well, technology does little for mediocre educational systems; and in dysfunctional schools, it can cause outright harm.”

Take the example of open online courses, available free of charge to Continue reading “Why Technology is No Quick “Fix” for Education”

Technology, Writing

Is Texting Killing Language?

This just in: Texting is NOT killing written language as we know it. Let’s take a collective sigh of relief and stop griping about teenagers lol-ing.

I’ve gone back and forth on this issue, but the talk above by linguist John McWhorter put the whole thing to rest for me.

McWhorter points out that texting is not, for all intents and purposes, even actual writing. We write in long, thought-out phrases that are meant to be read reflectively or orated as speeches. In texting however, we’re essentially just speaking. And in a conversation, we talk in short bursts of words, giving no thought to capitalization, punctuation, or spelling – just like in a text message. If you haven’t guessed it by now, McWhorter believes that texting functions much more like speaking – it’s just speaking that happens to be written down.

The entire talk is worth a lunch break, with tidbits such as “If humanity had existed for 24 hours, then writing only came along at about 11:07pm,” and an analysis of the shifting function of “lol” (because, if you haven’t noticed, people no longer exclusively use it when something is even actually funny – but I’ll leave that for McWhorter to explain).

Wht do u thnk?

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