NYT Room for Debate on Technology in the Classroom

January 6th, 2012

The roundup is here.

Will Richardson

We Live in a Mobile World


Let’s face it: For my children and for millions like them, life will be an open phone test.

Let’s face it: For my children and for millions like them, life will be an open phone test. They are among the first generation who will carry access to the sum of human knowledge and literally billions of potential teachers in their pockets. They will use that access on a daily basis to connect, create and, most important, to learn in ways that most of us can scarcely imagine. Given that reality, shouldn’t we be teaching our students how to use mobile devices well?

Right now, schools are resistant, fearing the disruption that mobile access might cause and the dangers that might lurk online. However, the analog, 20th century curriculum that most classrooms deliver doesn’t fit well with the realities of the exploding mobile, digital world. Our kids are stuck in a paper-based, local-learning system that doesn’t acknowledge the global, networked, always-on opportunities that mobile access affords.

Access in our kids’ pockets will force us to rethink much of what we do in schools. For one thing, we have to stop asking questions in classrooms that students can now answer with their phones (state capitals anyone?) and instead ask questions that require more than just a connection to answer — questions that call upon them to employ synthesis and critical thinking and creativity, not just memorization. Anything less is not preparing them for the information rich world that we live in.

I think this applies equally to law school. What is the point of memorizing something you can instantly google?


  • Paul Thomas

    A Misguided Use of Money


    Chalk board, marker board and now ‘smart’ board have not improved teaching or learning, but have created increased costs for schools.

  • Shekema Silveri

    The Reach of Distance Learning


    My students can complete the majority of their course requirements outside of class, eliminating down time for sickness or vacations.

Eric Sheninger

Leverage Social Media


One must get past the stigma and truly experience what this free resource can do for our schools and students.

There is a misguided stigma about social media and, as a result, it is often banned in schools. However, there are a growing number of passionate educators who have embraced social media as a powerful tool for learning.

One must get past the stigma and truly experience what this free resource can do for our schools and students to appreciate its inherent value. Social media is all about conversations that center around user-created content. When structured in a pedagogically sound fashion, learning activities that incorporate social media allow students to apply what they have learned through creation. This fosters higher order thinking skills and caters to a wide range of learning styles. Social media tools allow educators to authentically engage students as they encourage involvement, discussion, communication, collaboration and creativity. These include utilizing mainstream tools such as Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, as well as specialized ones such as Voicethread, Glogster, Animoto and Prezi.

And then there are blogs, which are an incredible social media tool that can be utilized in a variety of ways. Teachers can set up a class blog to foster creative writing and reflection or as an alternative to a school newspaper. Blogs are not isolated to just writing — students can add rich media to posts such as pictures, videos, widgets and gadgets. School administrators can use blogs as a powerful public relations tool in lieu of traditional newsletters and e-mail blasts. The ability to comment on any blog increases both student and community engagement.

For the new generation that is growing up in the digital age, learning needs to be relevant, meaningful and fun. Allowing them to use social media tools to achieve learning goals and objectives, of which they already are familiar with outside of school, makes sense in the globally connected, digital world we are all a part of.

  • Vicki Davis

    Embrace Adaptive Testing


    Adaptive learning is a powerful tool, but until it can better connect with teachers and parents, it will continue to be a hit and miss novelty.

  • Ann Leaness

    Interactive Whiteboards Allow More Sharing


    There are real concerns about the high cost and the loss of emphasis on teacher-centered lessons, but there are also benefits.