Thursday, January 06, 2011

Poisoning the Ed Tech Well

Like Rick Hess, my visceral reaction to recent stories about schools in Detroit or North Carolina using stimulus funds to buy iPads or computers is... meh. But Rick and I are both big advocates for using technology to innovate in education (albeit in different ways). And, upon further reflection, nothing has really changed about my feelings about the value of giving kids computers.

I do think the aggregate push on teacher quality, "no excuses" charters, emphasis on testing, etc. has had an effect on me though, and I doubt I'm the only one. There are a lot of people in the business-model reform movement -- not to mention ed tech vendors -- who are ready to pivot in a more tech-oriented direction, and I think they're going to find the well has been poisoned for that more than they might think. In particular, switching to nationwide computerized, year-round high-stakes testing will take a much bigger rollout of new technology than most people seem to realize. It will take a lot of money, and these things always run late and over budget. Whatever cost savings may be incurred by building out new infrastructure will only accrue in the long run.

So... we'll see. Not to mix metaphors, but I think we may find reformers have painted themselves into a corner.

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