Student Warns “Doing Technology” Isn’t Enough

PreK-12 / by

A guest blog this week at edweek.org gave a student the chance to tell us what he thinks is important about technology in the classroom.

The perspective of the learner doesn’t often get much air time.  What this learner has to say deserves attention.

Justin Reich has his eye on becoming that rare bird, a high school physics teacher.  He is a senior studying physics at MIT.  Any child he teaches will learn from a physicist.  Already he has my ear.

Justin was in middle and high school when technology toys for teachers were introduced in to his classroom school day.  His experience as a student who didn’t reap value in his learning are poignant and should be cautionary for teachers, administrators, and parents alike.

As Justin simply says, “When it’s done right, it works, and when it’s done poorly, it doesn’t work.”

One of the distinctions I see as a parent using a proven, rigorous online curriculum now for ten years, is that the quality of the content and the use of technology to customize instruction are where the gold lies.  When schools use technology to allow individual students to progress through proven content at their fastest pace the bar has been raised.  When teachers use technology to assess learning in order to diagnose issues and intervene with specificity and immediacy, children will learn more and do it in less time.

When that happens for a teacher, technology is not a toy or a new trick for a seasoned practitioner to try to integrate. Nor is it a hollow achievement for a school or a district.

As a parent, I hope for more learner voices that challenge as Justin does.  And further, that voices who dare say the emperor has no clothes are heard, so that wise educators embrace the greater goal of customized, rigorous instruction with real time competency measures made possible by the tool of technology.

Rose Fernandez

Rose Fernandez

Rose Fernandez is a longtime parent advocate for school options and online learning. A founder of the Wisconsin Coalition of Virtual School Families and the National Parent Network for Online Learning, she serves on the boards of the National Coalition for Public School Options and School Choice Wisconsin. Follow Rose on Twitter at @digitaledmom.

1 Comments

Suzanne Schuelke /

Hear, hear Rose. Just read Ryan’s blog. Dumping money into, or throwing money at, the educational system has never been the solution to improved learning – so why would it be any different with technology? It’s the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ technology is used that make the difference.