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There Are No Silver Bullets in Ed Tech

Techies have a penchant for hyperbole. That sentence is indeed an example! Techies are sooooo clever. 

Elliot: (giggles childishly) 

Cathie: (moans audibly) 

Following out that penchant, we googled “revolution” followed by various educational technologies. One sample search was "revolution iPads education," and as you might expect, these searches yielded some provocative headlines and quotes.

Let’s start with laptops. Maine was the first state to jump in with both feet when, in 2002, “Angus King, then Maine’s governor … pushed the $10- to $11-million-a-year program through a reluctant legislature.” He predicted: "'I think we're going to demonstrate the power of one-to-one [laptop] access that's going to transform education ... the economic future will belong to the technologically adept.'" Half a world away, in 2008, New South Wales, Australia, created the Digital Learning Revolution NSW to “…provide laptops to all public high school students in years 9–12….”

Not all states/cities/districts/schools could afford to purchase laptops for their students. BYOD to the rescue! In 20009, laptops were the predominant non-desktop computing device — the iPad wasn't introduced until 2010 — so the "D" in BYOD effectively meant laptops. Some classrooms allowed iPods — clean your glasses, that’s an “o” — but those classrooms were a minor blip in BYOD. BYOD brought millions of laptops into U.S. classrooms.

Concurrently with the rise of laptops, interactive whiteboards came on the scene — like gangbusters! In 2006, an academic article that examined the impact of IWB use in British classrooms wondered whether the new tech might lead to a “learning revolution?" The little “?” speaks volumes. In 2009 a book of tips for using IWBs in the classroom was published. Its title? The Interactive Whiteboard Revolution: Teaching with IWBs.

After the pervasive distribution of IWBs in British and US schools came the next revolution: the iPad!

Here are some articles proclaiming this particular revolution:

But there appears to be a rotten apple in the barrel (Elliot: Sorry, I just can't resist a cheap shot!) 

And here is why Chromebooks are education’s new device of choice, apparently: Chromebooks Are Cheap, Fast, Secure and Work Well. As the article says, "Really, what more do you need for your classroom computer?" Really? REALLY? From an IT perspective perhaps the author is correct. But who rules the roost in schools? IT? What about that thing called "pedagogy"?

Over the last 20 years, techies have continuously promised a revolution in K-12 education as a function of laptops, IWBs, iPads, and most recently, Chromebooks. Before we get to the NEXT REVOUTIONARY TECHNOLOGY there is another article title from way back in 2011 that is … interesting: "Research Says… One-to-One Laptop Programs Are No Silver Bullet."

Actually, the article should be entitled "Research Will Say… [Fill in the Latest Hot Technology] Is No Silver Bullet."

Elliot: BUT, BUT, smartphones are cheap, prevalent and oh-so-cool!! And those wonderful 3D printers: OMG OMG!!

Cathie: Perhaps you missed that last paragraph, so I'll repeat it: "Research Will Say… [Fill in the Latest Hot Technology] Is No Silver Bullet."

Elliot: OH, OH, IT HURTS!!!

Cathie: Oh please….