We, today, generally seek to improve education. We essentially seek a Utopian classroom in which students learn collaboratively, engagingly, and effectively. The new technology tools for classrooms, like companion websites for textbooks, iclickers, and blackboard are meant to enhance the classroom experience and improve education for students. So, in the same vein of a Utopia, the ideal classroom is one that we desire that doesn't quite exist. From my contacts in India, I understand that Tibetans are certainly interested in the possibility of technology improving education for their children. In our minds, the ideal classroom (a new world of fantastic learning, a Utopia) certainly involves technology. I can hardly imagine college without powerpoint (whether or not it is effective notwithstanding). My high school calculus teacher had some sort of smart board that conveniently allowed each of us to watch him solve a problem without the cumbers of a traditional white board. In both small and large ways, technology is central to progress in the classroom.
So, why? Why do we, along with Tibetans see a holy grail in classroom technology? Given that some technologies actually improve the classroom, which ones detract? (I, for one, have always been overwhelmed by companion websites, particularly when my teachers never address them. I discussed this problem on Mike Lemon's great blog.) To what extent does classroom technology's association with Western progress determine its marked position in the center of the Utopian classroom?