Why Educational Technology Didn’t Save the Day

In the early 2000s, we were all so hopeful that the new emerging educational technology will save the day, transform our classrooms, make our teaching and learning more efficient and cause overall major educational transformation, for the better. We believed that our students will be captivated with software and websites, which will allow them to absorb knowledge at the unprecedented rate. We speculated about best visual literacy presentation(s) and opportunities for differentiated instruction. Those were some days.

Today, I am acutely aware of how short of expectations we have fallen. Learning solely from a computer platform has proven to be a huge failure. Learning online shortchanges students of all levels. It robs them of true educational experience in which the teacher is a knowledge facilitator and student engagement deepens learning and enhances long term memory. So, now we can tell for certain that there is simply no substitute for a good teacher. Students cannot simply read from a book, answer online questions and gain as much knowledge as their peers in the traditional classroom.

Nonetheless, online platforms are heavily promoted for K-12 homeschooling, high school credit recovery and college credits. The research data is out and it doesn’t look good for the online learning community. Students still learn more from face-to-face interaction. Furthermore, students prefer face-to-face interaction to an online platform.

NPR (2016) noted the increasing number of high-schools across the country utilizing private “online credit recovery” providers, yet “69 percent of students got Ds or Fs when studying with the software, versus 47 percent in a regular class.” (npr.org)

As a teacher, I am still waiting for educational software that will engage students while providing rich in-depth content. For all its benefits, technology needs to be facilitated and used as a tool by educators, not the other way around.

When it comes to homeschooling, credit recovery or additional instruction, especially for students K-12, in person tutoring will not only get students where they need to be, but it will also pay off in educational benefits exponentially throughout life.