Daniel Koretz on Access to Technology

Daniel Koretz:


I mean, clearly, it’s a gap in access.  But what’s very unclear is how many of the kids who have access are using it for things that are valuable and how many are using it for things that are no more valuable than, say, television which we know from the academic point of view is for the most part a waste of time.  We just don’t know.  And, moreover, the efforts to bring digital media into schools have been, in many cases, real failures.  It’s been a hammer in search of a nail.  People know that there’s this powerful technology out there, it ought to be to in schools and I agree it ought to, but they weren’t quite sure how to do it, many of them.  We have a number of really promising things, some of which have been going out for a long time.  So, for instance, there has been very interesting work going on for at least a dozen years in the development of intelligent, computer based intelligent tutors in mathematics, software that will allow diagnosis of errors and present kids with new problems based on the reasons why they fail to get a previous problem correct and so on.  But that’s not, generally, what you see when you go into schools.  And when I went, I used to go and watch my kids in school, I rarely saw, there were computers, but I rarely saw any activity on the computers.  It was very valuable other than learning to type on them.  So I think there is a problem that the world has reached a point at which a lack of access to the digital media and for that matter a lack of access to broadband can be crippling.  But the other side of it is we still have a relatively weak grasp of how kids use it and how to encourage them to use it in ways that are more productive.  There are lots of interesting pilots in development efforts but there is, in my view, a lack of consensus in the policy world about what really to do with all of these.  And some of that, by the way, is also expensive.  It will cost money. 

A gap exists, Daniel Koretz admits, but he wonders how much of technology is used for educational purposes.

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