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Oversold and Underused: Computers in the Classroom

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Impelled by a demand for increasing American strength in the new global economy, many educators, public officials, business leaders, and parents argue that school computers and Internet access will improve academic learning and prepare students for an information-based workplace. But just how valid is this argument? In Oversold and Underused, one of the most respected voice Impelled by a demand for increasing American strength in the new global economy, many educators, public officials, business leaders, and parents argue that school computers and Internet access will improve academic learning and prepare students for an information-based workplace. But just how valid is this argument? In Oversold and Underused, one of the most respected voices in American education argues that when teachers are not given a say in how the technology might reshape schools, computers are merely souped-up typewriters and classrooms continue to run much as they did a generation ago. In his studies of early childhood, high school, and university classrooms in Silicon Valley, Larry Cuban found that students and teachers use the new technologies far less in the classroom than they do at home, and that teachers who use computers for instruction do so infrequently and unimaginatively. Cuban points out that historical and organizational economic contexts influence how teachers use technical innovations. Computers can be useful when teachers sufficiently understand the technology themselves, believe it will enhance learning, and have the power to shape their own curricula. But these conditions can't be met without a broader and deeper commitment to public education beyond preparing workers. More attention, Cuban says, needs to be paid to the civic and social goals of schooling, goals that make the question of how many computers are in classrooms trivial.


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Impelled by a demand for increasing American strength in the new global economy, many educators, public officials, business leaders, and parents argue that school computers and Internet access will improve academic learning and prepare students for an information-based workplace. But just how valid is this argument? In Oversold and Underused, one of the most respected voice Impelled by a demand for increasing American strength in the new global economy, many educators, public officials, business leaders, and parents argue that school computers and Internet access will improve academic learning and prepare students for an information-based workplace. But just how valid is this argument? In Oversold and Underused, one of the most respected voices in American education argues that when teachers are not given a say in how the technology might reshape schools, computers are merely souped-up typewriters and classrooms continue to run much as they did a generation ago. In his studies of early childhood, high school, and university classrooms in Silicon Valley, Larry Cuban found that students and teachers use the new technologies far less in the classroom than they do at home, and that teachers who use computers for instruction do so infrequently and unimaginatively. Cuban points out that historical and organizational economic contexts influence how teachers use technical innovations. Computers can be useful when teachers sufficiently understand the technology themselves, believe it will enhance learning, and have the power to shape their own curricula. But these conditions can't be met without a broader and deeper commitment to public education beyond preparing workers. More attention, Cuban says, needs to be paid to the civic and social goals of schooling, goals that make the question of how many computers are in classrooms trivial.

30 review for Oversold and Underused: Computers in the Classroom

  1. 5 out of 5

    Joy

    By examining use of computers in Silicon Valley area schools, arguably one of the most technically advanced education settings, Cuban shows us how merely providing computers in every classroom fails to accomplish much sought after teaching reform. Worse, EdTech enthusiasts tend to equate improvements in education with economic gains, thereby totally bypassing the civic and democratic mission of public education. Cuban thinks that without changing our social structures, work environments, and ass By examining use of computers in Silicon Valley area schools, arguably one of the most technically advanced education settings, Cuban shows us how merely providing computers in every classroom fails to accomplish much sought after teaching reform. Worse, EdTech enthusiasts tend to equate improvements in education with economic gains, thereby totally bypassing the civic and democratic mission of public education. Cuban thinks that without changing our social structures, work environments, and assumptions about what teachers can and should do, technological reform will not successfully revolutionize 21st century education, and will not lead to increased worker productivity. His most critical insight revolves around the absolute necessity for teachers to be brought into the reform process; indeed, the only successful tech reform ventures he mentions stem from coalitions between teachers, nonprofits, and administrators, which thoroughly consider the context of use and purpose of wiring up. Cuban insists that educators must ask: "...will spending our limited educational funds to sustain technology bring us closer to the larger democratic purposes that are at the heart and soul of public schooling in America?" For the real kicker: "And without a broader vision of the social and civic role that schools perform in a democratic society, our current excessive focus on technology use in school runs the danger of trivializing our nations core ideals." And what's happening in higher education, over ten years after the publication of this book, is just that. We still haven't really thought about it. But perhaps I can say that we're starting to? Here's my two cents: the real importance of tech education has to do with the ability of citizens to engage with and modify the technological world around them. The importance rests in user-centered movements that tap into creativity and diversity, and don't reduce users (either students or teachers) to consumers. Chris Kelty's amazing book The Cultural Significance of Free Software takes up these themes. Here's a promising and awesome project for open courseware along these lines: http://www.openassembly.com/. I'm cautiously optimistic.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Seán Mchugh

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I’ve been working in TEL or EdTech for over 25 years, (since 1994) and I have yet to encounter a book that has such insight into this area than Larry Cuban’s original thesis, and it’s amazing how relevant it still is so many years later. I only wish more people that work in TEL would read this book, as it provides a much needed dose of a reality check that I find is generally missing from the technology enhanced learning advocates as generally evidenced on Twitter. A community wheee the tech is I’ve been working in TEL or EdTech for over 25 years, (since 1994) and I have yet to encounter a book that has such insight into this area than Larry Cuban’s original thesis, and it’s amazing how relevant it still is so many years later. I only wish more people that work in TEL would read this book, as it provides a much needed dose of a reality check that I find is generally missing from the technology enhanced learning advocates as generally evidenced on Twitter. A community wheee the tech is more often than not, the proverbial digital tail wagging the pedagogical dog Despite the title, it’s actually a very reasonable and optimistic treatment of the issues, in particular I like this this reference to early childhood and the integration of digital technology: Clements, for example, in two separate syntheses of research findings (1987 and 1993), concluded that computers are "developmentally appropriate for young children." In his 1987 conclusions, Clements expressed hesitation about the effects of computers on preschoolers and kindergartners: "Young children do not need computers any more than the 'need' any of many potentially valuable learning centers. There is, however, nothing to lose and potentially rich benefits to acquire through informed use of computers. Informed, because inappropriate or insipid uses will have little or no benefit. Effectiveness depends critically on the quality of the software, the amount of time it is used, and the way in which it is used." Five years later, however, the conditional language had disappeared. Faster computers, greater storage capacity, and better software may account for the change. Clements' review of new research in the later 1980's and early 1990's had convinced him of the effectiveness of computers for young children. "Appropriate computer programs can contribute to early childhood education. Young children use computers successfully and confidently, in balance with other activities. They prefer to control programs that are animated, problem solving-oriented, and interactive.. Girls and boys when young, do not differ in computer use, leading to recommendations that pre-school is a good time to introduce moderate, safe use of this technology." Alongside Stratosphere by Fullan I would regard this book as absolutely essential reading for anyone who is serious about integrating digital technology into the classrooms of the 21st-century.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas

    While informationally accurate, and analytically strong, I disagree with the initial premise. His premise is that promoters wanted and claimed that computers should and would fundamentally alter instruction. I believe this is false straw man argument. I do not believe there were or are many who wanted such a change, with or without computers. For sure there were visionaries who promoted computers as a new paradigm in education, but I do o think they were the majority. There were as many who saw While informationally accurate, and analytically strong, I disagree with the initial premise. His premise is that promoters wanted and claimed that computers should and would fundamentally alter instruction. I believe this is false straw man argument. I do not believe there were or are many who wanted such a change, with or without computers. For sure there were visionaries who promoted computers as a new paradigm in education, but I do o think they were the majority. There were as many who saw it as strengthening existing pedagogy, and reinforcing direct controlled instruction as those who saw it as a liberating force. But was definitely wroth the read. I wonder how it reads now 20 years later.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ginny Daniels

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Interesting studies from Silicon Valley schools, from 2000 (twenty years ago-can’t hardly believe it!), about how computers weren’t being utilized in schools due to lack of professional development or in-school support. Weird to read his prediction about how a $100 laptop might change things. (It has!)

  5. 4 out of 5

    Tara Brabazon

    I have just completed my sixth reading of this book. It is an absolute classic monograph of digital dissent. Cuban has one premise: to dissolve the assumption that more technology creates better learning. In Oversold and Underused, he succeeds better than any other writer. Courageous and well written, anyone interested in online learning should start here.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Levaria

    I had to read it for school. While a lot of it is still relevant (because many schools in the USA are about the level of the studied teachers/schools in Silicon Valley in this study). I simply did not enjoy reading it--uninteresting and overly bland.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Michelle's Book

    I was given an ARC in exchange for my honest opinion. This book cover is on my Pinterest board and my blog, Michelle Dragalin’s Journey.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jilane

  9. 5 out of 5

    Maureen Cohen

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kristina Musachia

  11. 4 out of 5

    M. Serhat

  12. 4 out of 5

    Emily H.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Allison

  14. 5 out of 5

    David

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

  16. 5 out of 5

    Clare

  17. 4 out of 5

    Yoyodyne

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jolene

  19. 4 out of 5

    Brian

  20. 5 out of 5

    Painting

  21. 5 out of 5

    Håkan Fleischer

  22. 4 out of 5

    Samia

  23. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

  24. 4 out of 5

    Wendy

  25. 5 out of 5

    David

  26. 4 out of 5

    Neema

  27. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

  28. 5 out of 5

    Joseph

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Carr

  30. 5 out of 5

    Vicki

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