Technology in School Classrooms (Book Review)

Technology in School Classrooms: How It Can Transform Teaching and Student Learning Today

James G. Cibulka and Bruce S. Cooper, eds. 2017. Rowman & Littlefield. 172 pages. 978-1-4758-3104-7. USD$30.00 (softcover).

Cibulka and Cooper are educators and editors for this collection of works about the use of technology in school classrooms and the general topic of next generation learning in schools. The topics covered in Technology in School Classrooms include use of online learning in K–12, the role of technology in student learning, how to approach the professional development of teachers in the digital age, use of technology in science classrooms, and the role of schools in educating and preparing a technologically literate teaching workforce.

In the piece on the state of K–12 online learning, I found some especially interesting observations. The history of using distance education in K–12 is long (p. 45). However, over the last three decades, we see no “convincing evidence” that online learning is “effective in producing positive student outcomes.” The authors do state that online and blended learning in this environment can be successful “but the way online and blended learning is currently implemented often does not work for all—or even most—students.” The authors go on to state that we should learn from programs that have not lived up to their high expectations.

Cibulka puts together a thought-provoking conclusion to Technology in School Classrooms with a section on reconciling the views of “technology skeptics and enthusiasts.” He states (p. 160) that there is “support for both views in these chapters.” Cibulka agrees with the idea that digital technology “has the potential to transform teaching and student learning.” He states that he agrees with the technology enthusiasts that the entire educational systems must be transformed. Skeptics note that so far digital technology has not been a big driver of change in American education. So, there we get a glimpse of the arguments for and against the use of digital technologies in the school classroom.

Only time will tell if technology transforms education. Transforming the system might not be possible or easy as we need teacher training, leadership, and a vision to achieve the transformation. The skeptics will point out the challenges with the transformation. So let’s see what happens.

You might enjoy Technology in School Classrooms if you want to keep up with the topics and thinking in the field of next generation learning. If you are teaching, you might like your students to get exposed to the ideas here.

Note to readers: A version of this book review is scheduled to appear in Technical Communication, the journal of the STC.

Reviewed by: Jeanette Evans