Computers Make Kids Smarter-Right? by Heather Kirkpatrick and Larry Cuban

This article questions the conventional wisdom that money spent on technology is well spent and helps students become smarter. As the authors point out, the results of studies on effectiveness of technology on learning have been mixed.

To determine the effectiveness of technology, people(educators, parents, interested parties) need to examine the following carefully:

1. “What do we want to use computers for in our classrooms?” In other words, before money is spent on technology, a clear idea of how it will be used is important.

2. “Can we reach our goals at less cost—without additional investments in technology?” My thoughts on this would be that before money is allocated for technology, an existing inventory of current software needs to occur. In other words, before additional money is spent on technology, can modifications (upgrades, etc.) be made? Is there less costly alternatives?

3. “Will computers help create the type of students and citizens we seek?” In other words, will this investment in technology help in the learning process?

4. “Through what means can we achieve our desired ends?” In other words, do we have a plan?

In a nutshell, this article points out that before money is spent on technology, a needs assessment must occur including a clear idea of the purpose for the technology, an analysis of current equipment/software, a goal, and plan.

The authors go into depth examining obstacles to planning, needs analysis, and evaluation of the impact of technology. Studying the effectiveness of technology is hard due to a variety of reasons from poor planning of analysis to the diverse types of learning presented via technology.