Education Needs Paris Hilton

6/15/2007 By: Susan McLester

from Technology & Learning

If we can figure out a way to get Paris Hilton associated with education technology, we actually may begin getting the coverage the topic deserves.

In any event, it seems the New York Times agrees, opting to go with the tabloid-style, sensational approach to its coverage. In May's "Seeing No Progress, Some Schools Drop Laptops," author Winnie Hu details all that's gone wrong with the one-to-one laptop program in the Liverpool, NY, school district. Unfortunately, as many in the education community have observed since its publication, the reporting is irresponsibly lopsided, with virtually no coverage of the many programs that are working. It seems Hu might have benefited had she used the well-known tools—such as Google!—that our kids regularly rely on for research. That's assuming she really wanted to educate herself about some of the key elements experts say must be in place for the successful implementation of laptop programs. It is not as if there's a dearth of evidence.

Responses to the Times report from experts, such as blogger David Warlick (see techlearning.com archives for "What's Good About the May 4 New York Times Article About Laptops in Schools") and Mary Axelson and former T&L editor-in-chief Judy Salpeter (see www.21centuryconnections.com and www.k12blueprint.com for "New York Times Article Sparks Debate") all counter the Times' arguments. Instead they detail specific successes of one-to-one in schools. And yet because they are universally free of any mention of Paris Hilton (or those like her), none is likely to see the light of day in a major national publication.

And so, because the adult American public—much of which is clueless about how ill-prepared students are for the digital workforce if things don't change dramatically—trusts the Times' coverage, it will see just one more piece of evidence against making our schools more competitive in the 21st century. So let's make our expert voices heard on one-to-one successes. Failing that, send any ideas on how to get Paris Hilton involved. In either case, e-mail me at smclester@nbmedia.com with suggestions.

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