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Can Technology Revolutionize Education?

October 27, 2011 by Allison Bailey and J. Puckett
October 27, 2011

As U.S. educators and policymakers seek ways to boost student achievement, against a backdrop of tight budgets, perhaps it’s time to consider a new model—harnessing the power and popularity of technology.

In most classrooms today, cell phones, iPads, and other electronic devices are considered distractions. Their use is discouraged, if not forbidden.

That’s too bad: because we think technology may be the best way to reach and teach our kids, rather than the textbooks, chalkboards, and projection screens previous generations preferred.

Technology has succeeded in reshaping other industries, including banking and travel. Even the book-publishing industry is being transformed, as the proliferation of devices such as Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook drives sales of e-books.

Technology can change education as well.

But it can’t be used willy-nilly. If parents, educators, entrepreneurs, and policymakers want to realize technology’s full potential, it needs to be deployed systemically, in a “closed-loop” system that uses technology at every level to provide continuous improvement in instruction and outcomes.

This requires establishing clear objectives, developing content that enables teachers to meet the objectives, training teachers to use these new resources effectively, and using technology to provide real-time continuous feedback and one-on-one intervention, where necessary. The main challenge isn’t how to put the latest, greatest software or device to use, but employing available technologies to address specific needs.

So why has education been left out of the technology revolution?