Will Technology Advance Learning, or Prove a Distraction?
The iBooks are coming! The iBooks are coming! Like some invading force, these tablet devices carry great promise. They allow students to rid themselves of back-straining printed books and replace them with portable devices that capture thousands of colorful, interactive pages with multimedia elements, three-dimensional graphics, and photo galleries. At the same time, they threaten to replace traditional texts and even libraries, a development already in progress in some halls of learning, where library stacks have been displaced by computers and carts of high-tech tablets. The hoped-for outcome is a revolution in reading in specific and learning in general.
We use the word “threaten” advisedly, as the history of technology has been a bumpy and uncertain path with numerous cul-de-sacs. In 1933, Elementary English , a journal for teachers, advertised the manual typewriter as a device that would dramatically change writing and spelling: “Education must assume control of this new educational tool.”
Other technological advances tell a similar story. When “talkie” motion pictures became popular, hopeful educators jumped on the movie bandwagon. Then there was the talking typewriter, a short-lived effort to teach 3-year-olds to read using an electric typewriter. Next up was educational television. When the personal computer arrived, teachers were encouraged to individualize instruction by becoming educational programmers (as if they didn’t have enough tasks to fill their days). The educational use soon focused...
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