The uncertainty is feeding alarm among some parents already worried about the amount of time their children spend attached to digital devices. Some believe technology is not doing much to help their kids learn, setting up a clash with tech advocates who say technology is the future of education.
Across the country—in Boston, Fort Wayne, Ind., and Austin, Texas—parents are demanding proof technology works as an educational tool, and insisting on limits. They’re pushing schools to offer low- or screen-free classrooms, picketing board meetings to protest all the online classes and demanding more information about what data is collected on students.
In April, a report from the National Education Policy Center, a nonpartisan research group at the University of Colorado at Boulder, found the rapid adoption of the mostly proprietary technology in education to be rife with “questionable educational assumptions . . . self-interested advocacy by the technology industry, serious threats to student privacy and a lack of research support.”
Proponents say schools must have technology. “We are moving into a time of exponential change,” says Keith Krueger, CEO of Consortium for School Networking, an association for school tech officers that also includes tech companies. “Schools are not at the leading edge of technology but technology is reaching a tipping point in the way learning happens.” He says, “Schools need to determine how to equip [students] to be smart digital citizens.”