Classroom Technology Letter to the Editor

The Dangers of Technologizing School

September 29, 2020 1 min read

To the Editor:

The article, “COVID-19 Fuels Big Enrollment Increases in Virtual Schools” (Sept. 3, 2020) raises red flags about virtual schools, but the larger trend of technologizing education is of equal concern.

The California Alliance of Researchers for Equity in Education has released a brief about the shift to online learning during the pandemic, and the research is clear—technologies for online learning can amplify inequities. Six large-scale studies show that fully online schools are far less effective than in-person schools. Even when students are attending schools in person, their learning is negatively impacted when spending significant time on computer-based technologies, as shown in large-scale studies of schools in the United States and abroad.

All of this is exacerbated by existing inequities. In spring 2020, students in poverty, of color, with disabilities, and/or who were English-language learners were far less likely than other students to regularly access online platforms. Other problems associated with extended screen time are increased risks related to physical and mental health, online bullying and sexual exploitation, and data and personal-privacy intrusion. Schools still have not received adequate resources and support to address such problems.

The California Alliance of Researchers for Equity in Education brief further shows that the shift to remote learning and the availability of federal stimulus funding provided the perfect storm for profiteering by technology corporations and providers. A recent analysis of the marketing claims about the effectiveness of various technology products showed a woeful lack of research basis for such claims. Yet companies grew their profits during the spring, and industry leaders saw their wealth soar.

Schools must do better with online education when it is still unsafe to reopen.

Such improvement starts with more research-based, democratic policies and funding priorities at the state and federal level.

Kevin Kumashiro

Former Dean

School of Education

University of San Francisco

Emeryville, Calif.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the September 30, 2020 edition of Education Week as The Dangers of Technologizing School


Jobs The EdWeek Top School Jobs Virtual Career Fair
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
Teaching Live Online Discussion How to Develop Powerful Project-Based Learning
How do you prepare students to be engaged, active, and empowered young adults? Creating a classroom atmosphere that encourages students to pursue critical inquiry and the many skills it requires demands artful planning on the
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
A Safe Return to Schools is Possible with Testing
We are edging closer to a nationwide return to in-person learning in the fall. However, vaccinations alone will not get us through this. Young children not being able to vaccinate, the spread of new and
Content provided by BD

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Classroom Technology Quiz Quiz: How Much Do You Know About Creating Effective Hybrid Learning Environments?
Quiz Yourself: How effective are your hybrid learning environments?
Classroom Technology Like Police Officers, Educators Have Been Caught on Camera Behaving Badly
Several recent incidents show how students and parents can use their cellphones to capture abusive or racist behavior by some educators.
9 min read
cellphone video 1242161726 02
Petro Bevz/iStock/Getty
Classroom Technology School District Leaders Are Still Worried About Home Internet Access for Students
Schools have scaled-up their efforts to help more kids get online, according to a new survey, but concerns remain about tech equity.
2 min read
Veronica Esquivel, 10, finishes her homework after her virtual school hours while her brother Isias Esquivel sits in front of the computer, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021, at their residence in Chicago's predominantly Hispanic Pilsen neighborhood.
Veronica Esquivel, 10, finishes her homework in her Chicago home after a day of virtual school in February.
Shafkat Anowar/AP
Classroom Technology Teachers: Here Are Tips for Using Your New 'Geeky' Skills to Improve Classroom Management
How educators can use the lessons of the pandemic to reshape classroom management for next school year and beyond.
6 min read
A group of people manage a complicated problem
Vanessa Solis/Education Week and iStock/Getty Images Plus