The Flickering Mind: The False Promise of Technology in the Classroom and How Learning Can Be Saved looks like a really interesting read - especially his point about computers in poorer schools widening, rather than improving the 'Digital Divide'.
'By and large, computers have given schools an easy way to neglect the hard work of teaching and learning, replacing it with shortcuts and high-tech tricks that have entranced both teachers and parents. What we've done, Oppenheimer argues, is "fool the poor with computers." Aggravating these intellectual inequities are continuing financial inequities in the schools, which have widened in recent years.'
'Teachers in poor schools are often under-trained and overburdened. When computers arrive on this scene, the teachers typically see them as a savior, a device that will finally command their students' attention. The reality is that the computer's conveniences become a shortcut around the carefully layered intellectual work-with books and test tubes and pencil and paper-that are education's fundamental building blocks. Even teachers who know this often can't do much about it. Most of their time in computerized classes must go to managing technical hassles the schools can't afford to fix, and watching for cheating, instant messaging tricks, and illicit material-to say nothing of the ongoing challenge of just maintaining order.'
Oppenheimer says that schools are spending vast amounts of money on computer equipment to the detriment of programs such as music, art, shop and other extra-curricula activities. Schools are also increasingly becoming subject to corruption as technology companies inflate their prices -
'That leaves educators dependent on the software manufacturer's advice on what gear to buy, what kind of academic work should be done with it, and what constitutes success. But the priority of these manufacturers isn't teaching. It's selling.'
I agree with a great deal of what Oppenheimer is saying, but I still think that by empowing educators to make use of technology in sustainable ways, we can improve learning in more ways using technology than he proposes. If I had a school budget, I'd rather spend it on computers only for teachers and the rest in training them how to use them to make learning and curriculum development more efficient.