In her recent article on Mashable, Sarah Kessler examines data from a one-to-one laptop program in Peru. The title of the article gives the final conclusion in the study: “2.5 million laptops later, one laptop per child doesn’t improve test scores.”
This is a hard pill to swallow for those of us who spend everyday wishing for a one-to-one program in our own schools. On one hand, the findings are not all that surprising. Test scores do not seem to be going up anywhere, whether students are using technology or not, so this serves as another reminder that the education system needs work. On the other hand, why does everyone think that the sole use for computers in schools needs to be in the name of improving test scores?
Maybe this is what is irritating me about the article so much. Not anywhere is there mention of how the computers were used within these schools. Were students learning how to use the computer? Learning to write in Word or make a PowerPoint are great skills, but they certainly aren’t going to show up as evidence of learning on a standardized test.
Here’s the point: students will only show growth when using technology in a manner that makes them think about the subject they are supposed to learn.
Can this be done with paper and pencil? Sure it can. Teachers have been doing it for a hundred years. Skeptics of using technology in the classroom are quick to bring this up in conversation, but the days of paper and pencil are over. When I think of how much I time I spend writing with a pen compared to how much time is spent typing on a keyboard, I might as well throw my pen away. If this were shown visually in a graph, the use of a writing utensil wouldn’t even register.
Computers are the means used to read and write in 21st Century. Yes, I also included reading here. Once again, the majority of my reading is done on some sort of screen whether it is the computer, my Kindle, or my iPhone, and this is coming from the teacher, who in the eyes of my students, is old and out of date.
Just think of how they view reading and writing.
To say that computers are going to improve test scores is like saying that if I have wings I can fly. This isn’t just going to magically take place. However, if I learn to use a vehicle with wings, then my chances of flying are much greater. Computers are the current vehicle for learning.
We don’t use the cart and horse anymore. It’s just too slow.