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         Digital tools in education

February 13, 2010

Chapter 3: Use of Machines in the Classroom

Filed under: Larry Cuban — mepada @ 10:27 pm

This chapter hit home. Years ago -before changing careers from education to instructional technology- I taught for several years (at the Higher Ed level). Oftentimes new technologies would pop ‘up and there would be either an administrator and/or an “early adopter” pushing us to adopt it and use it in the classroom. My personal reaction is explained very clearly on page 60: Teaching itself nourishes a cautionary attitude toward change and an arms-length response to automated devices.

This type of “un-gentle” request always made me nervous however, as Cuban states on page 55: Compliance with authority is expected in organizations. I had (and the same applies today) many concerns that needed examined and questions that needed answers before I would even start to consider such an adoption.

Many of these items link directly to some of the assertions mentioned in this chapter. Even though Cuban concentrates in the K-12 environment, I believe the same criteria can be transferred to Higher Ed setting as well.

Today, in my role as an instructional technologist /technology programs coordinator, with less classroom teaching responsibilities but increasing faculty training obligations, I continue to bring to the table the same set of questions and concerns I had when I taught students back in the day!:

  • What is this technology tool?
  • What does it do?
  • What are its limitations?
  • Will it help deliver content in a more effective manner?
  • Will it improve teaching/learning? (pg 65: The changes teachers have embraced…have solved problems that teachers identified as important…)
  • Will this tool help my students get better grades?
  • Will I have time to learn it? (I was really overloaded as it was!)
  • Will the college/university offer training?
  • Will the college/university provide support?
  • Will I have to re-arrange my classroom layout?
  • Will the students require/need same level of training/support?
  • Will the students have access to the equipment?  In a lab?  In the classroom? At home?
  • Will the lab be open enough hours? Evening hours?
  • Will we (instructors and students) have to incur any additional costs?
  • What happens when something goes wrong?
  • Will this technology go away when a new one is introduced?
  • Is it worth the time/labor/effort?

After all, as mentioned in The Three-E Strategy for Overcoming Resistance to Technological Change: If you just build it, they won’t come—you need to shape users’ behavior by acknowledging their world view rather than your own as a technology implementer. (

1 Comment

  1. These are great questions to ask before considering new technology in education. It expands greatly upon what Cuban lists on page 66 where he identifies the questions: “Is it simple? Versatile? Reliable? Durable? What is the personal cost in energy versus return in worth for students? Will these new machines help solve problems teachers (and not nonteachers) define?” I think creating a rubric with the points you note included may help in discerning what technology to adopt and what to skip. The important part will be getting teachers to complete the rubric and have a voice in making these decisions.

    Comment by Debbie Grosser — February 14, 2010 @ 8:21 pm

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