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Education technology—“Edtech”—has become an area of intense innovation and debate—with topics like Massive Open Online Courses, coding for kids, and tablets constantly attracting attention and sparking debate every day.

But how are teachers and students responding to the constant influx of new digital tools?

The latest Pew Research Center Internet and American Life survey of 2,500 Advanced Placement (AP) and National Writing Project (NWP) teachers from 6th to 12th grade suggests that while edtech is infiltrating classrooms, key disparities are affecting how teachers teach and how their students learn.

Anthropologists have long studied the role that mythology plays in the cultural fabric of a community.  According to these social scientists, various cultures use myths as a form of storytelling to provide an explanation for a changing or confusing world, to validate existing beliefs, to fill in gaps of knowledge or understanding, and to establish a sense of order amongst chaos.  Myths often are also used to inspire awe and wonder amongst the community.  While the excitement of the myth story is contagious, the awe and wonder is not intended to stimulate scientific questioning or inquiry, but rather to maintain a status quo of order or power.  Such is the case for example with the traditional Navajo myth about the creation of the constellations.  As the story is told, the Sun and Moon were made from cutting giant discs of quartz that were then hoisted into the sky to provide light to the Navajo people, both during the day and at night.  Not wanting to be wasteful, the creation deity used the remnants of the quartz cutting process to create patterns of stars in the night sky that had an explicit function of explaining the community’s laws.  While the myth provided the Navajo people with an awe-inspiring explanation for how the Sun, Moon, and stars were created, it also sought to establish a cultural order within the community, as the medicine men were the only ones recognized with the wisdom to interpret the constellation-based laws.     

In a similar way, the education community has used anecdotal stories over the years to understand or make sense of the role of technology within the lives of today’s K-12 students.  These stories have developed into a comprehensive mythology around student digital learning that closely mimics the role of myths within other cultures.  The unprecedented pace of the infiltration of technology tools and resources within our daily lives has created a need, especially for adults, to create a new sense of order within education, and to fill in gaps of knowledge and understanding around the use of technology with overly simplified explanatory narratives.

In 2013, Education Reform Initiative (ERI), a think-and-do tank in Turkey, teamed up with Research Triangle Institute (RTI International) to study Turkey’s FATIH project. For ERI, this has been considered as a major part of its ongoing efforts of monitoring education policy issues and a thorough evaluation of FATIH necessitated cooperation with a research center endowed with comprehensive international experience regarding information and communication technologies in education