The Benefits of Technology (page 3)

By — John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Updated on Nov 6, 2010

The Future

The nation's schools will only be transformed if this political resistance can somehow be overcome. This is a tall order, to say the least, for it reflects the very same political problem that education reforms of all types have been up against—and largely defeated by—for decades. Why should technology be any different? When all is said and done, this is the pivotal issue.

The central claim of our book is that technology is different. It is different, of course, because of its sheer enormity as a historic social force, and because of the great benefits it promises for learning and education. But these drivers of change are not enough to overcome the inevitable resistance. What sets technology apart from other sources of reform is that, as we will discuss in our final chapter, it also has a far-reaching capacity to change politics—and to eat away, relentlessly and effectively, at the political barriers that have long prevented reform. Technology, then, is a double-barreled agent of change. It generates the innovations that make change attractive, and at the same time it undermines the political resistance that would normally prevent change from happening. It pushes for change—and opens the political gates.

This is not to say that the triumph of technology will come easily, because it won't. There will be struggles and setbacks, and the process will take decades. But the forces of resistance will ultimately be overcome, leading to a transformation of the American school system. This will mean real improvement, and real benefits for the nation and its children. It will also mean something still more profound: the dawning of a new era in which politics is more open, productive ideas are more likely to flourish—and learning is liberated from the dead hand of the past.


11 In fact, computers and instructional software have been in schools for a  generation without making much of a dent in education. Some observers believe this imerviousness of the school system to technology is detined to contintue into the future. See, especially, Larry Cuban, Oversold and Underused: Computers in the Classroom (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003).

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