2 simple ways to measure the success of your school’s tech program


The pencil was, in its day, a disruptive technology. When the little pink eraser on the end was introduced it had educators throwing up their hands. Now, they said, no one will think before they write. The pencil is also an incredibly sophisticated tool. It took more than a century to perfect–Thoreau’s family was a player in the pencil wars of the early 19th century.

Yet, no one notices pencils anymore. They are a great example of the successful integration of technology in education. (By the way, no one I know considers correlating pencils to test scores as they did in this misplaced critique in the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/04/technology/technology-in-schools-faces-questions-on-value.html?pagewanted=all) The marks of this success are ubiquity and invisibility. A quick check on theses two scales let’s me easily gauge the success of any school’s technology program, however sophisticated the devices or applications they roll out.


  1. Reply
    Tony Richards October 5, 2011

    Hello,Just some comments – not sure your diagram actually measures anything except the way technology is viewed or seen which has no impact on learning when isolated like this. Measures of a successful technology program would show or indicate some form of changed approach to learning, when are we going to move away from the tools being the focus? They are just the instruments through which learning can occur.Also on another note do you actually have empirical evidence apart from the myth that seems to have been perpetuated that pencils had such an alarming effect on education and that “When the little pink eraser on the end was introduced it had educators throwing up their hands”? I would love to see the evidence.

  2. Reply
    Brad Ovenell-Carter October 5, 2011

    OK, Maybe I was being too clever. the whole point of the doodle is to say that it’s not about the technology; that is I know it’s well integrated when I don’t see it. What I am saying, or was trying to say, is that ubiquity and invisibility are strongly correlated with well-integrated technologies. These are measures, that’s all. To look for their impact is like looking for the impact of a tape measure on a person’s height. When I see these phenomena, I do expect to see the tech has had a strong impact on learning. So, we’re on the same page there. If you want a good example, have a look at this home reading program developed by a couple teachers at my school. It’s made possible by th iPad, but it’s not about the iPad: http://asliceofthefuture.posterous.com/home-reading-clipsAs for the pencil-eraser business: I can highly recommend Dennis Baron’s, A Better Pencil (ISBN13: 9780195388442 ISBN10: 0195388445). Baron shows that virtually all writing implements–and even writing itself–were greeted at first with anxiety and outrage.

  3. Reply
    Melanie Cannon October 14, 2011

    Hi Brad,Do you have a copy of Baron’s book? If so, I would love to borrow it. Would have made for an interesting assembly…doing 21st century skills instead.Thanks!

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