Is it worth fighting a war over edtech? Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush seems to think so. He co-founded the Foundation for Excellence in Education and has made it his goal to “digitize education,” which (from what I understand) involves phasing out teachers and phasing in online learning. For more details, read this short article from Fox News.
Of course, there are those who think that such a war is already being fought. Will Richardson, one of my favorite education bloggers, has been writing about this for a while. You can check out his latest “rant” on the subject here – coincidentally posted on the same day as the Fox News article, although it is a direct response to this more in-depth piece from the Wall Street Journal.
The question is: Will edtech be the downfall of teachers? We have a discussion going on about this already in our LinkedIn group: Edutech Trends, Visions, Passions. Feel free to join in and give your opinion – we’d love to hear it!
But enough with the links. Time for a little editorializing. That’s why people read blogs to begin with, right?
The key element of this discussion comes in only at the very end of both the Fox News and WSJ articles.
In the end, virtual schooling “comes down to what you make of it,” says Rosie Lowndes, a social-studies teacher at Georgia Cyber Academy. Kids who work closely with parents or teachers do well, she says. “But basically letting a child educate himself, that’s not going to be a good educational experience.” The computer, she says, can’t do it alone.
I couldn’t agree more. Edtech is a tool – a powerful one, at that – but it cannot be mistaken for a solution to all our education problems. Sure, you can use technology to do a lot these days. But sometimes there is simply no replacement for an excellent teacher. After all, would you consider yourself qualified to perform a root canal after watching a YouTube video? You might be “better informed” but you’re still not an expert.
Take our flashcards as another example. We aren’t just making these because we think we’ll get rich quick. If we were, we would have quit some time ago. We make them because we firmly believe that studying with our flashcards is one way to help you improve your knowledge, understanding, and (yes) your score on many key standardized tests.
But are our flashcards the only solution? No. In fact, we are very clear in our FAQ section that we don’t believe our flashcards should be the only test-prep trick up your sleeve. Our flashcards are but one piece in the educational puzzle. To treat them any differently would be a mistake, just as viewing edtech and “digital education” as a one-size-fits-all solution to every student’s education would be too.