Shamina Haque          
Assignment 4-Critical review of an educational technology book


 U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Technology.  (2004). Toward A New Golden Age in American Education: How the Internet, the Law and Today's Students Are Revolutionizing Expectations, Washington, D.C.

Goals of the book
            Toward A New Golden Age in American Education is a report produced by the US Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology. The report presents the Departments vision and its recommendations to implement a National Education Technology Plan. The goals of this plan as stated by the Education Secretary, Rod Paige is to implement and utilize technology in an effective manner in our schools. The report contains various recommendations on how to implement technology and the benefits of using technology as means of increasing student academic performance. It calls for community support, teacher training, distance learning, integrating data systems and system wide change in incorporating technology in the classroom. The report emphasizes the importance of incorporating technology in instruction claiming today’s tech-savvy students require technology in their learning for better academic achievement. This encourages students to compete at a global level and fulfill the goals of the No Child Left Behind act.

            The report focuses on some very important issues and gives good recommendations on how to incorporate technology in our classrooms. They take a very optimistic approach and consider various aspects in implementing the plan. Concerns for costs of technology, teacher training, and demographics and opinion of students are highlighted. The report addresses the “digital divide” or disconnect between schools and students and how to provide greater Internet access to all. It also identifies some key problems of our schools which include low performance in literacy, math and science and the socioeconomic factors involved. There are also examples of states implementing technology in an effective manner, for instance, the improvement of reading levels of 3rd graders at Peabody Elementary School in St Louis, Missouri or the Florida Virtual School which enables rural school students to access a greater variety of courses and instruction.


           Though the statistics reveal much about the conditions of our schools and everyone’s attitude and opinion about educational technology it may not be all that reliable. In the National Speak Up Day and other surveys the USDOE used to gather information for this report they represent the views of only a quarter million of the 50 million students in this country. The students seem rather optimistic and motivated about school but from experience such optimism about school and incorporating technology was not observed. When statistics about students show “88 percent say going to college is critical” this is 88% of 250,000 students not 50 million. Another weakness of the report is its bias towards No Child Left Behind, a product of the Bush Administration. At various instances the article has a tone of propaganda pushing forth the agenda of the administration with claims that the reform act is revolutionizing education in the US and is pushing for more technology.  There have been mixed reviews about the reform and the report’s claims maybe exaggerating the results found in state implementation of data management systems and virtual learning and the other forms of technology they talk about like personal laptops. The report also does not consider that too much technology is not always a good thing and there are disadvantages to certain technologies like e-learning or virtual schools as opposed to face-to-face interaction which may be just as beneficial.

Implications for education in general, and for science education             

            The implementation of this plan can indeed bring American education to a golden age. It is just a matter of taking the 7 steps outlined in the report of strengthening leadership, budgeting resourcefully, integrating data systems, increasing access and bandwidth of Internet, and distance learning. The report suggests some important challenges faced by schools including digital divide, budget problems, teacher training and student underperformance. However with the Educational Technology Plan in place teachers can effectively implement technology in their instruction and schools can invest in technologies that ultimately benefit today’s students who are as the report calls “ultra-communicators” who need technological applications in schools to maintain interest and involvement. This will make students motivated to learn since they are familiar with the method of learning the teacher is using this case any type of computer technology.

How might you use what you've learned in your use of technology in your teaching?

Adopting some of the models presented in the report is useful in creating a better learning environment for students. Data systems are very useful tools to know more about my students, besides that known from day to day interactions you have with your students. E-learning is a valuable supplemental tool I can use. Virtual schooling is an option that I would use but would have to use innovative instruction because the lack of personal interaction can make the experience confusing and overwhelming for some. Despite this it is a great alternative for students who are unable to come to school due to disability, location, or scheduling. I would gladly take the professional training necessary for using advanced computer technology and programs as the report also highlights. An important take-home of the report is that though the technology is there and available to us at our schools, it up to us as educators to incorporate it in our lessons and instruction in an effective and innovative manner.


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