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Misc Ed Tech &Off-Topic Isaac on 06 May 2007 09:56 am

Article on Tech-Enhanced Learning

Originally, I thought I was going to post about an interesting article.  After a careful read-through, I’m actually posting about an obnoxiously uninformed article and picking apart some parts that I find especially irritating.  This article, Lansing State Journal: Teachers say tech enhances learning, is all hat and no cattle.  I apologize in advance for but this extremely snarky off-topic post.

Kinawa Middle School teacher Josh Coty has a SMART Board.He touches the interactive screen, barely moves a hand along its surface and – voila! – there’s a geometric shape.

“To show this stuff has always been a difficult thing,” the Okemos math teacher said.

Whatever pops up on his computer monitor appears on the SMART Board screen, which makes a visual statement measuring about 3- 1/2 feet tall and 6 feet wide.

I don’t really think showing geometric shapes has always been a difficult thing. In fact, I know of only a small handful of things of that ilk that can be done on a SMART board that can’t be done on an overhead projector.  How exactly a large SMART board makes a “visual statement” much less what that statement might be escapes me entirely.

Morell Boone, dean of Eastern Michigan University’s College of Technology, has a fourth-grade grandchild who already did a PowerPoint presentation for the Chelsea school system.

“Whether we agree with it or not, it’s there,” Boone said of technology.

“We owe it to the children to stay up with what the world is expecting.”

Is it too cynically for me to ask “if the world were expecting our kids to jump off a bridge…”? A PowerPoint presentation is not likely to be an appropriate medium for a fourth-grader.

Haslett Middle School teacher Reid McGuire’s classroom has an interactive white board, Tablet PC and a set of small handheld key pads resembling TV remote controls for immediate feedback from students.

It’s not the same ol’ smart kids answering questions.

“Participation has gone up exponentially,” McGuire said.

“I can get 100 percent participation stress free.”

I really hope this teacher isn’t teaching math, since it’s not possible to have participation go up exponentially in a population of fixed size. Perhaps he meant logistically?

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2 Responses to “Article on Tech-Enhanced Learning”

  1. on 07 May 2007 at 9:23 am 1.Randal Baier said …

    The phrase “increased exponentially” is a legitimate rhetorical device in this case. Of course, you’re correct, but I think you know that you’re consciously being technically correct. OK, I get it, you’re a secular Luddite.

    If you have 100 students in a fixed population, and every year you get 1 or 2 students that increase their skills, then you have an “arithmetic” increase. Or logistic maybe. Fair enough. If, however, you notice that 2 kids gains new skills, then 4 the next year (or term), then 8, and so on, then it’s fair to say it’s “exponential,” or maybe “geometric,” which also works.

    It’s like acceleration, the growth is noticeably different for each period of time. I think the phrase works quite well in this case. It’s a use of language, not “real” mathematics.

    Agreed, unlike lemmings and scabies, you can’t drop back to a small population. But that’s not the way a phrase like this is used — it’s meant to highlight the effect.

  2. on 07 May 2007 at 10:54 am 2.Isaac said …

    I agree that it’s largely a linguistic device. When juxtaposed directly with 100% participation (and especially in the context of a broadly underinformed article), it did jump out at me.