Friday, August 14, 2020
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Tech changes the experience in Md. schools

The use of technology and a near-1-to-1 initiative is transforming public schools in Worcester County, Maryland, Delmarva Now reports.

Tech 1-to-1 initiatives aim to put a device in the hands of every single student.

“We want to prepare our students to be 21st-century learners,” the paper quoted Diane Stulz, coordinator of instruction school system, as saying. “Times have changed and technology has changed our world drastically. We want our students to be able to use that technology.”

The schools are purchasing devices in order to equip early elementary students with iPads, middle schoolers with Chromebooks, and high school students with their own laptops they can take home. The program is expected to ramp up over the next few years, but its effects are already apparent.

“Our students are now able to have personalized learning. So if there is a gifted student in the classroom, we can give them as much as they need, and if a student needs more remediation, the personalized instruction can help them out as well,” Ms Stulz was quoted as saying.

Students who may not have a broadband connection in their homes are able to come into the school buildings before or after school to use the WiFi, the article stated. I have to applaud the technology initiative described here in Worcester County, and I’m glad to see, at least at the elementary level, that there’s still some interpersonal contact between students and their teachers.

“So far our teachers at the elementary level won’t spend as much time on technology, because our students still need to learn how to interact with others and learn all of those skills that you need to have that aren’t based on a computer,” Ms Stulz told Delmarva Now.

Personalized learning

Can we please stop calling kids who use computers “personalized learning”? How can an activity be “personalized” when it doesn’t even involve person-to-person contact?

Furthermore, the ultimate measure of any technology initiative depends on the programs installed on the computers or the sites used by students and their teachers.

That gifted student Ms Stulz referred to in the hypothetical may be a 7-year-old who needs to be challenged academically but may feel very uncomfortable in a room full of 10-year-olds. And how do you think those 10-year-olds feel?

This is the error that arises when every kid in a classroom is working at a different pace. Teachers are ineffective—actually, that may be the whole point: proving teachers to be ineffective so they can be replaced by robots and other devices—when every student out of 30 is doing something different.

If that’s how it’s going to be, just cut to the chase: fire the teachers and hire better programmers who can make machines work as our corporate leaders would like them to work. Administrators will get their kickback!

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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