Liberating Educational Technology Through the Socratic Method

Liberating Educational Technology Through the Socratic Method

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7365-4.ch034
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Technology is now an essential component of classroom instruction. Instructors have come to terms with the realization that their students are “digital natives” who acquire information through an array of technologies. The knowledge that is attained through technology induces schools to develop what has been called one-to-one programs. These programs offer both instructors and students opportunities to understand material in meaningful ways. However, without training, laptops merely become add-ons to traditional lesson plans. In order to raise the level of student participation and teacher expertise, this chapter puts forward the idea that the Socratic method can be the pedagogical bridge between traditional lesson plans and technological platforms. In elucidating this idea, this chapter offers background on the general experience of schools that adopted one-to-one programs. The chapter then offers a brief account of the Socratic method. Lastly, there will be discussion on the relationship between the Socratic method and educational technology.
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In 2009, Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education exhorted public schools nationwide to implement technology in public schools (Lemke, 2010). He indicated at a national consortium that “good teachers can utilize new technology to accelerate learning and provide extended learning opportunities for students” (Lemke, 2010, p. 245). As one example of this desire to increase educational technology, schools began to invest millions of dollars in One to One laptop programs (Goodwin, 2011).

However, even before this speech by Duncan, issues were raised concerning One to One laptop programs. Hu (2007) indicated that school districts in New York and elsewhere were seeing One to One laptop programs as major obstacles to student learning. As early as 2007, the United States Department of Education found that there was “no difference in academic achievement between students who used educational software programs for math and reading and those who did not” (Hu, 2007). Studies in Texas and Michigan showed mixed results in student achievement when it came to the effectiveness of laptop programs (Goodwin, 2011).

One cannot also discount the influence teaching has on successful laptop programs (Stansbury, 2010). Studies published in the Journal of Technology, Learning and Assessment at Boston College’s Lynch School of Education indicated that “the most important factor of all is the teaching practices of instructors – suggesting school laptop programs are only as effective as the teachers who apply them” (Stansbury, 2010). This is further confirmed from results of a recent study of 997 schools in the United States indicating that one of the factors that added to successful laptop programs was teacher training (Goodwin, 2011).

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