“They would just blather something,” said Arnold, who teaches higher education and educational administration. “They didn’t have a conversation. It was more like a hoop-jumping exercise.”
That was around 2008, and Arnold has avoided assigning online discussions ever since.
Like other faculty nationwide with memories of failed experiments such as these, she’s pushing back against the widespread notion that technology can necessarily improve teaching and cut costs.
“We are fooling ourselves that we’re getting more efficient,” she said.
It’s been a high-stakes bet. Universities and colleges are marketing themselves to tech-savvy teenagers while promising higher productivity and financial savings. They will pour $10.4 billion into education technology this year, according to the Center for Digital Education, from computers to in-class gadgets such as digital projectors and wireless “clickers” that let students answer questions electronically.