Kevin Petry

SEYS 753



Review of Oversold and Underused: Computers in the Classroom


This book debates the fact whether or not computers are effective in the teaching process. The nook is presented through various case studies conducted in the United States. Classrooms are examined on the elementary level, the high school level, and the University level. The author, Larry Cuban, states that advocates for computers in the classroom believe that having a technological class will meet three goals. The first is that schools will be more efficient and productive. The second is that teaching will become more engaging and connected to the outside world. The third is that it will better prepare young people for life in the real world. The book basically also looks to see if these goals are true. Cuban then dissects each case study b asking questions and discussing them. He centers his questions on how computers are used, whether or not teaching has changed since the advent of the computer, and if the investment in these machines is actually worth it. Cuban accomplishes his goals. The book looks at data collected from the various case studies, and Cuban successfully discusses both sides of the debate. The reader is left to make their own decision about whether or not technology is effective for teaching.

This book made many strong points. The first point is his effective comparison of the introduction of computers to the introduction of past technologies such as the radio and television. These tools were also supposed to revolutionize the classroom experience. Television was supposed to be a huge asset in connecting students to the outside world, same as computers. Based on the past, teachers were excited about the new technology at first, built as time went on, their use in the classroom declined. This was interesting. The next strength Cuban discusses is his chart for measuring technology use in the classroom. The levels are entry, adoption, adaptation, appropriation and invention. Entry is where the teacher is a beginner user. Adoption is mostly traditional instruction with some use of the computer. Adaptation is when students are given some computer time for class work and homework. Appropriation is full integration of technology. Invention is when teachers find new ways to connect students with the technology. Invention is usually rooted in project-based learning. These levels effectively describe the levels of use for computers in a class setting. The explanations are clear and easy to understand. Cuban then applies these levels after a case has been read. He refers to these terms in his questioning of the data. The major strength of the book is that it analyses technology on all educational levels. He describes the use on each level. Not all ages should use technology the same way. Elementary students basically use computers with pre existing learning centers. Technology essentially adds to what they were already doing. In high school, computers are mostly used for word processing. The teachers mainly used them for planning and grading, and not for actual lessons.  In college, students use computers for word processing and the internet. Professors mainly used them outside of the classroom for research. H ultimately answers the goals of computers. He feels that computers do boost productivity, but users have to have the corre3ct training. He also feels that technology does make the classroom experience more engaging. He also believes that good technological knowledge will help people in the future work place. On the question of whether or not the technology is a good investment, he says that more is time is needed to make a conclusion.

     The major weakness of this book simply is time. Technology changes extremely rapidly. This book is now over 10 years old. Many things have changed in that time. Regarding his levels of technology use, Entry is almost extinct. Most teachers today have some sort of base knowledge on how a computer works. New teachers are trained in college on how to use these things. New teachers who are graduating now, had computers in their elementary schools and high schools. In the book it mentions that we teach the way we were taught. Ten years ago, new teachers did not grow up with technology. New teachers now have been exposed to that, and that makes a huge differne4ce. The book also does address smart phones and IPads, simply because they haven’t been invented yet. These things have a huge effect on the classroom experience and they have a vast array of implications. As with all things technology, time changes everything very quickly.

This book has many implications for science education. Every teacher should read this book because it really does do a good job at presenting data about technology. Today most schools in the United States have some level of technology. Every teacher needs to have knowledge on how these machines work. Students today are tech savvy. They spend most of their free time on whatever technological devices they can get their hands on, whether that’s a smart phone, a playstation or a laptop. It is essential that teachers be aware of this. They must get the proper training and then use it in their teaching. Part of most teachers’ evaluations includes a section on technology.

I strive to use technology everyday in my room. I am lucky to have a classroom equipped with a smart board and an internet enabled computer. We also just recently received school wide wireless internet. I am aware that the students are carrying smart phones, and I utilize these as part of lessons. This does really help in getting students more engaged. We also just received a class set of laptops. They are great for doing group work on a science website, or a virtual lab online. I believe that I am pretty tech savvy and I employ these skills on a daily basis.


Cuban, L. (2005). Oversold and underused, computers in the classroom. Harvard Univ Pr.