Educational Technology Doesn’t Work?

Education Week: Reading, Math Software Found to Have Little Effect on Scores.

A year ago I wrote about Part 1 of a study on “educational” software – Headlines that won’t help. The preliminary results of the study found that various software test prep packages had little impact on student test scores. Now the second half of the study is out. Guess what. The software still doesn’t work.

All of these software packages promise to improve student scores in reading and math. But as endless research has proven, drilling kids for tests doesn’t result in significant test score improvement, and has negative long-term results in what students actually retain. It doesn’t matter if we drill more efficiently with expensive software. Doing things that don’t work DOESN’T WORK. How much simpler can this be? As I said last year, the headlines SHOULD read, “Bad Educational Practice Proved Ineffective, Again!

All of the studied software test prep programs are far removed from creative software applications that allow students to use modern technology to express themselves in innovative, personal ways.

But to repeat another prediction from a year ago, this will have a chilling effect on creative uses of software. To me, they are as different as zebras and baseballs, but all get lumped together under the banner of educational technology.

Now, every time we talk about kids doing interesting stuff that involves a computer, we’ll get hit with this. Making movies, programming, blogging, collaboration, projects, kids making games, exploring virtual worlds, GIS, Google Earth? What are you thinking, haven’t you heard? Educational Technology Doesn’t Work.

We have to find a better way to differentiate these things.


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