In a book that the reviewers describe as “a sobering yet insightful reality check” on the growing influence of technology in America’s classrooms, author Clifford Stoll challenges virtually all the current assumptions about the benefits of technology-based learning.
Stoll, who first addressed computers in education in his groundbreaking 1996 book, “Silicon Snake Oil,” trains his sights on what he considers key shibboleths of technology in education today. He questions the benefits of spending school district money on computers that will be obsolete in a few years, instead of investing in other key areas of student education and extracurricular experience.
Stoll’s ire is raised by the assumption that “learning needs to be fun,” and the corollary that computers enhance the enjoyment of learning. He disputes the assertion that knowledge is evolving so quickly that laptop computers are a better medium for teaching high-school level science and mathematics than a book with a five-plus-year shelf life. And he refutes the notion that somehow schools are obligated to provide students with internet access.
While the reviewers of the book commend Stoll for taking a critical look at computers in the classroom, they fault him for not providing solutions to these problems that do incorporate thoughtful use of information-age technology. “High Tech Heretic” (New York: Doubleday, 1999) can be ordered directly from ASBJ by calling (800) 706-6722 or can be found at bookstores.