The topic of the effectiveness of technology in education is one that has gotten a lot of attention, anywhere from this site to the publicity it received nationally due to the recent NY Times article. My recent parent teacher conference day led me to share my own thoughts on the matter.
In completion of my YU Partnership Ed Tech Course of 2011, I undertook to create a wiki for my 6th grade Gemara classes. The wiki contained handouts that we did in class or that were assigned for homework, had some links which may have been of interest and a collaborative portion within the theme of enhancing tefila. While at conferences, the feedback that I received most from parents was regarding the website. The overwhelming response was extremely positive. Parents enjoyed that they could see what their children were learning, had a backup of printable homework pages in case the student forgot it or the dog ate the original copy and were kept up to date about where we were in class. In addition, the parents found the wiki very interesting. While I do admit that there are still some technical glitches with some of my middle school students logging in and just getting started, the parents relished the fact that their child was doing work on the computer for Gemara class no less. They told me time and again about how this had given their child the opportunity to enhance their learning. This is a direct result of the technology enhancing the lesson and continuing the learning beyond the classroom and beyond school hours. I dont think that this will usher in robots teaching our children nor am I weighing in on the pros and cons of the flipped classroom. However, I felt it was worthwhile to share my unscientific results based on the data that my students' parents shared with me, unsolicited, during conferences. Good teaching is the most effective way to educate our children. However, if technology is an effective means of fostering and furthering education then it cant be that bad of a tool to use.