The most commonly heard selling points for computers in schools—and
what the author discovered to be true in classrooms across the
prepare youngsters for the increasingly high-tech jobs of tomorrow.
"Education's technology promoters have the situation backwards.
Students actually do not need extensive computer experience to
handle technology's challenges (employers prefer teaching most
of those specific skills themselves). What employers do look for
is an extensive set of people skills: the ability to listen and
communicate; to think critically and imaginatively; to read, write,
and figure; and many other capabilities that schools are increasingly
neglecting." (Chapter 6—Computer
Literacy: Limping toward Tomorrow's Jobs)
improve both teaching practices and student achievement.
Educators, parents, and politicians frequently invest in new education
programs, both high-tech and low-tech, based on highly questionable
research put forth by the technology companies. For example, Renaissance
Learning, the nation's largest purveyor of reading software, has
built its success on what it maintains is a solid array of research
proving that its programs increase student achievement; however,
independent researchers have found their methods stunning in their
dishonesty. (Chapter 9—The Research
Game: Faith and Testing in Las Vegas)
Increasing the number of computers in the classroom will decrease
the "digital divide" between the rich and the poor.
For decades, most media attention on the subject of computers
in schools has focused on efforts, led by both government and
private interests, to close what's been called "the digital
divide." (The term ostensibly describes the situation wherein
poor children have less access to high technology than wealthy
children do, and thus fall increasingly far behind.) In reality,
this campaign has increased the true divide between rich and poor,
by putting poor students at further intellectual disadvantage.
By and large, computers have given schools an easy way to neglect
the hard work of teaching and learning, replacing it with shortcuts
and high-tech tricks that have entranced both teachers and parents.
What we've done, Oppenheimer argues, is "fool the poor with
computers." Aggravating these intellectual inequities are
continuing financial inequities in the schools, which have widened
in recent years. (Chapter 2—Fooling
the Poor with Computers: Harlem, New York)
are necessary to bring students valuable connections with a global
This pursuit operates on two fronts: through encouraging student
research on the Internet, and through online "Distance Learning”
courses—the latest craze in high-tech schooling. Despite
the allure (and cost-effectiveness) of online courses, students
frequently complain that these classes are not interesting, and
only increase their sense of isolation. As for Internet research,
problems of control here are serious. Schools are now required
by law to purchase "filtering" software that protects
children from illicit material. But many schools can't afford
these systems, which can cost $50,000 for a tiny district. When
schools do pony up the cash for filtering systems, the software
often doesn't work, and students regularly hack through it anyway.
(Chapter 2: Fooling the Poor with Computers; Chapter 3—Breaking
Down Rural Isolation: Hundred, West Virginia; Chapter 8: The Spoils
of Industry Partnership)
& A with Todd Oppenheimer (36kb pdf)