An interesting article from the Guardian showed up in my inbox this morning: Kindle’s English language teaching role ‘re-examined’. It’s about how the US State Department cancelled a project to use Kindles with their global English language programs. While neither the State Department nor Amazon stated the reason for the cancelled program, they simply said that they needed to do more research, The Guardian speculated that part of the problem may be some of the problems associated with mobile learning specifically and blended learning in general.
One quote that jumped out at me, “there appeared to have been little focus on exactly how the Kindles would be integrated into current education programmes.” The article goes on to say that focusing on the technology for technology’s sake and not on what and how the students are supposed to learn has caused several other technology-based programs to fail.
This is a problem that I see all the time, on both large-scale, school-wide projects and on a smaller class by class or even activity by activity basis. Many people get so focused on what they can a do with technology that they forget to ask themselves: is using this technology the best way to achieve the curriculum objectives? In my opinion, more often than not, the answer to that question is no.
As stated in the article, the problem with technology is “a lot of people get excited when they see the device” but that excitement does not equal learning. I think that people often mistake excitement for engagement and/or motivation, but excitement wears off quickly and if the technology is not appropriate, than in my experience, students will abandon it.
I do think that there is a place for technology in learning, but I think that it should only be used when appropriate. Just because you can do something with technology, doesn’t mean that you should.