Transforms What

A recent headline in the business section our local paper was headlined “Technology Transforms Classrooms”.

It was about the use of personal response systems those devices where students use small wireless “clickers” to send a response to a central sensor that can do things like display summative statistics or store them for analysis.

Now I have used them a bit for some of our workshops and events (WebDev 2001, Ocotillo Retreat 2003) and am very favorable of them for getting some engagement from the audience. The energy level of the room gets rather high when used well.

So I am not saying PRS is a bad technology.

But look carefully again at the photo above in the scan form the newspaper article. The headlines uses the word transforms. What is in the image? A single teacher, the source of learning, is standing, arms crossed, lecturing, in front a passive audience of students, consumers of learning… Is this a transformed classroom or is it the same as it has been since Aristotle?

Maybe my expectation level for transformation is unreasonably high, but think critically when someone claims a technology is transforming learning. It is not the technology that transforms, it is the action and the process that goes on around it.

The post "How Transformative?" was originally yanked out of the teeth of a rabid chicken at CogDogBlog ( on May 27, 2005.

1 Comment

  • Tom Hoffman

    The calculus room in my old high school, built in about 1962, had similar technology wired into it. Was it ever used? Not as far as I can tell.