To the Editor:
I found your recent section on digital learning very disappointing.
Too many articles in this “special” report read like a paid promotion of software products without adequate reference to evidence that these products work to improve learning, no less lead to “higher-order thinking skills,” as claimed. You owe it to your readers to produce this evidence.
Indeed, I would argue that there are very few, if any, good studies indicating that outsourcing instruction to software companies works in K-12 education—and growing evidence that the reliance on computers and software will actually widen the achievement gap, as well as lead to increasing depersonalization and exploitation of students for commercial purposes. There are a growing number of informed critics and skeptics of the education technology craze. Why aren’t any of them quoted in this collection of articles?
I am also disappointed by the articles on “Data Dashboard Priorities”data dashboards and the use of career-planning technology by students, because there is no attention given to how these products could also work to limit students’ opportunities and future successes. I would argue that there’s actually far more evidence that the use of this technology could have damaging effects on students via the Golem effect than have a positive impact on their futures. The risk to student privacy is another great concern that is touched on only briefly in a few of these pieces.
There are many parents who are very alarmed by the move toward online learning and see this trend as driven by profit rather than good sense or research evidence.
Co-Chair, Parent Coalition for Student Privacy
Executive Director, Class Size Matters
New York, N.Y.
A version of this article appeared in the February 10, 2016 edition of Education Week as Reader Faults ‘Digital Reach’ Report as Lacking Skepticism on Ed Tech