Calling Timeout on Computer ‘Games’

Jane Healy is no Luddite when it comes to recognizing the value of computers in education. A former elementary school principal who’s become a prominent educational psychologist, she has seen computer-based learning experiences work wonders for some children, particularly those with learning disabilities.

But having spent much of the last two years visiting schools nationwide for a firsthand investigation into technology use, Healy has come away with troubling questions about the educational computing landscape.

While finding school districts eager to spend scarce dollars on technology that’s likely to be outdated in three years, she saw much of the new machinery in schools either misused or underused, machines sitting idle for lack of technical support or adequate teacher training and the use of software for trivial game playing. She’s also disturbed by the one-upmanship she senses among neighboring school communities (“My district’s hard drives are bigger than yours!”).

In this month’s issue, Healy has crafted an original piece based on her latest book, Failure to Connect: How Computers Affect Our Children’s Minds–for Better or Worse, which was published last fall by Simon & Schuster. Her overarching message to educators is this: Slow down and rethink the computerization of classrooms.

Healy’s account is balanced here by some promising applications of educational technology that are in their early phases. Kenneth Stevenson, a university professor, details the positive impact of giving laptop computers full-time to a group of middle school students. Shelley Berman, superintendent in Hudson, Mass., writes about a nationwide project (of which he’s been at the fore) that delivers credit-bearing courses to high school students via the Internet.

Because we periodically revisit the subject of technology in education, we’d like to hear what you think of this month’s treatment and what would most interest you in our future coverage.

Jay P. Goldman

Voice: 703-875-0745


COPYRIGHT 1999 American Association of School Administrators

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

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