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Technologies used in classrooms should be researched before they are used. I think using untested technologies in classrooms is unethical.

Pharmaceutical products undergo extensive testing before they are approved and sold to patients. Even after they are approved, drugs and medications that are found to be dangerous to human life are withdrawn from the market. The cost of testing is borne by the pharmaceutical companies that develop the drugs and medicines.
However, in education, tools of technology are sold without any prior testing. Research is conducted after the products are purchased. Such research treats children and adults as guinea pigs.
I think that the use of technological tools in education is unethical because they are not tested before they are purchased. Many such products also do not improve learning. I think that corporations that develop and sell technological tools should bear the cost of doing research and only be allowed to sell products that actually improve learning of content.
Schools should also be able to return any products that they purchase if such products do not perform as advertised.

  • Feb 14 2014: Seeing as drugs are specifically designed to create chemical reactions in the human body where something going wrong is lethal, and the worst educational technology could do is teach poorly, there really isn't much of a comparison to be made.

    Most of the stuff you learn is school is useless anyway.
    • Feb 14 2014: But it is so much fun - 8>))
    • Feb 14 2014: Some of the unintended uses of technology, which are not easy to control, such as cyberbullying, have caused a lot of stress for kids and at least one student has committed suicide because of unsavory things that took place online.
      What about the use of taxpayers’ dollars to buy technologies that have not been proven to be effective?
      If “Most of the stuff you learn in school is useless anyway,” why waste more money on technology?
      • Feb 15 2014: I don't know about you, but back when I was a kid (not that long ago, really), we had real world bullying worse then any of that cyber stuff. Trolling a facebook page and beating some poor kid to a bloody pulp are not really comparable.

        As for wise investment of money, sure, check if it works before you buy it, makes sense. But if you check it too thoroughly, you're wasting too much time and find yourself behind the rest of the world--this isn't medicine, you don't have to get it examined by dozens of studies over a decade to make sure it doesn't kill anyone. Such extensive testing will also make it much more expensive when you eventually do implement it.

        As for "most of the stuff you learn in school is useless anyway", that's not a fundamental problem with school, that's a fundamental problem with the curriculum. Has nothing to do with technology, just bad priorities.
        • Feb 15 2014: Based on personal experience, I think that the impact of bullying is psychological as well as physical. The physical wounds will eventually heal, but the psychological scars are likely to remain unhealed for a long time.

          The use of technologies in schools is taken for granted, and its effectiveness is rarely questioned. That is one of the many reasons why such technologies should be tested before they are used with children. The current practice is to spend lots of money on technologies and then test them on children in schools.

          Because similar technological tools are also used at home and in offices, I do not really see how the US will fall "behind the rest of the world" as you stated in your comment.
      • Feb 28 2014: The problem with cyberbullying is that while a specific case is often less harmful then a specific case of the physical kind (people sometimes forget that physical harm comes hand in hand with a psychological one), cyberbullying is more common due to the lack of face-to-face contact making it easier to commit, as there is less of a psychological barrier on the bully's part.
        However, cyberbullying isn't a result of educational technologies, its just a result of kids having access to the internet; not exactly the matter we're dealing with.

        As for it being taken for granted, perhaps that's your problem right there. Because its taken for granted, its easy to just throw money at it and expect it to work itself out, which leads to it being used incorrectly. Spending without oversight is your culprit, tech being poorly utilized in classrooms is just as symptom.
        • Feb 28 2014: Research can tell us whether technological tools improve learning. Based on research findings, we can decide if it is worth spending so much money to purchase such tools for use in classrooms.
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    Mar 1 2014: As a medical educator and clinical pharmacologist, I concur that there are many differences between testing a drug and testing an educational technology. But I will say that, at least at institutions of higher education in the U.S. and in many other countries, there are some similarities which protect the individual participating in the "experiment," whether they be a patient or learner. These amount to "consent forms," which are reviewed by an institutional ethics board often including members of the public not associated with a university. The forms describe the "intervention", which might or might not involve a new technology, and describes the potential benefits and disadvantages (side effects of a therapy, inconvenience for a learner). The participant signs the consent form and is provided information about withdrawing at any time. If the individual is a minor, it would require parental consent. No information from a formal study can be published without documentation of these procedures. Without such educational research, published in peer-reviewed journals, we might never be able to answer your fundamental question of which educational advancements or approaches yield better results.

    Now, are there technological or non-technological things that educators to tweak their instruction? Always, and in my 3rd role as an educational administrator, I would disappointed if my department's faculty members weren't always seeking improvement, including the better understanding of how technology can be used in their classroom, and sometimes when it does not help, despite the hype. What I have generally seen is that such introductions of new technology are first employed as trials with neutral or only positive evaluation consequences for the student. Following student feedback after a trial, they will continue their use, usually in modified fashion, or sometimes discontinue its use, seeking another tool or approach to solve an instructional challenge.
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    Feb 14 2014: this sounds like a good idea. Are you certain they don't already do this, m.o.? How do you think a company should test a product intended for a classroom of kids, maybe try it out on a classroom of kids? Maybe they already do this, you and I should research this to see if they already do this. Here's a Wikipedia page that says products are tried out in typical usage situations: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_product_development
    • Mar 12 2014: Not really. Mostly only anecdotal evidence is used instead of rigorous scientific research.
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    Mar 8 2014: could you provide specific examples of companies or specific technologies that applied/were applied to schools without adequate research. I think most of the general public only encounters this tech after hearing about "the new computer program we used in math" or "we got the new graphing calculators today" from kids when they come ho e from school and assume that they were tested before the school district implements them. so references to when this doenst happen would give us a better picture of what needs to be improved. I am pretty sure that it happens and I think it is mildly irresponsible of the moneyspenders, and politicians are using their "increased educational spending" as election platform and then instituting changes that are irrelevant is very unethical.
    • Mar 12 2014: I cannot think of any technological tools that were rigorously researched before they were sold to schools and used in classrooms.
  • Mar 3 2014: You wrote: "Following student feedback after a trial, they will continue their use, usually in modified fashion, or sometimes discontinue its use, seeking another tool or approach to solve an instructional challenge."

    In most classrooms, technologies are not "first employed as trials." Typically, no signed consent is obtained from parents, No assent forms are signed by students when these "trials" are conducted. If the school or district has blanket permission for such "trials," then I guess it is okay to perform such "trials." However, teachers are generally not well trained to conduct scientific research.
  • Mar 2 2014: Yes it can be done but the best way to test it is with kids in natural situations, not in lab studys. And besides you missed the second and third sentences of my comment. The tech is implamented as a resorce for the kids. What is the worst that new tech could do? Slow us down? Not likely.
    • Mar 3 2014: Some think that modern digital technologies could be either causing or increasing attention deficit disorder among children.
  • Mar 1 2014: In the USA, the best and the brightest do not go into the field of professional educator. Thus, scientific rigor is rather rare in pedagogy.
    • Mar 3 2014: I think the technologies should be researched before they are introduced into classrooms on a large scale.
  • Mar 1 2014: It is not unethical to use technology in the classroom with out researching it. It is bad teaching on the part of the educator. Good teachers do research and test their products before they use them in class. Usually after having another educator recommend the technology.

    School districts don't spend money on untested products either.
    • Mar 1 2014: I disagree. I think the technology should be tested first, before it is purchased for classroom use.

      If technological tools are purchased once without any research to support their use, such an action can perhaps be considered an honest mistake.

      But to keep spending millions of tax payers' dollars on tools that may or may not work is, in my opinion, unethical.

      I think it is also unethical for companies to sell their products with promises that they will improve learning even when research shows that the products do not produce gains in learning.
  • Feb 28 2014: I've grown up in the age of technology, and I can say personally that there is no real tesing you could do. The tech is implamented into schools today not forcefully, but as a resourse to help the kids. Were calculators beta tested for schools? Laptops? Ipads? The most common answer is no, and yet we see the kids using them, not just to do the assignment, but to also gain vital experience with a part of adult life. I can say without a doubt that I can opperate a laptop a hundred times better then I could in 11th grade because in my 12th grade year my school upgraded from old aces to microsoft computers and now I can operate new computers, tablets, move around the internet, all without remembering or even giving a crap about what the lesson I was using it for was about.
    • Feb 28 2014: You said ". . . now I can operate new computers, tablets, move around the internet, all without remembering or even giving a crap about what the lesson I was using it for was about."

      Nowadays, children can learn to do that at home.

      I am more concerned about the use of untested technologies in classrooms. I am also concerned about the millions of taxpayer dollars that are being spent on such technologies that may or may not help students learn.

      Yes, rigorous research studies can be conducted to determine whether technological tools improve student learning. It will take some time and money, but it can be done.
  • Feb 15 2014: Products may generally be field-tested during development, but the impact of technological tools used in classrooms are not, repeat, not, typically researched rigorously using randomly assigned experimental and control groups.
    Most of the information that is offered as evidence is anecdotal in nature with pictures of smiling and happy looking kids interacting the technological tools.