Diane Ravitch, a well-known, but often controversial voice in education, raises concerns in this article about how technology could be used in education. The former Assistant Secretary of Education acknowledges that in the hands of competent teachers technology can be a powerful aide to learning, but she cautions against policies that don’t consider the associated risks.

She writes: “Here is the conundrum: teachers see technology as a tool to inspire student learning; entrepreneurs see it as a way to standardize teaching, to replace teachers, to make money and to market new products. Which vision will prevail?”

See Inside Technology can inspire creativity or dehumanize learning Technology is transforming American education, for good and for ill. The good comes from the ingenious ways that teachers encourage their students to engage in science projects, learn about history by seeing the events for themselves and explore their own ideas on the Internet.

Read more at: www.scientificamerican.com

  • Austin Lee

    Not sure if I completely agree with the statement that “entrepreneurs see [technology] as a way to standardize teaching, to replace teachers, to make money and to market new products.”

    There are many edtech companies that have the teacher-student experience at the center of their product design. Events like the Edtech Start-up Collaborative (http://edtechcollaborative.org/) speak to this critical dialogue.

    That being said, I fully support Diane Ravitch’s healthy skepticism and care for the livelihood of teachers. Her voice is a necessary and value-adding one.

  • This is unfortunately another example of a so-called “education historian” who is out of touch with the current state of public education. I too find it quite ignorant and insulting that Ms. Ravitch would assume that “entrepreneurs see technology as a way to standardize teaching, to replace teachers, to make money, and market new products.” I agree with Lee that Ms. Ravitch is ignoring the category of ed tech companies who are actually trying to improve the teaching experience, such as Teachscape.

    Ms. Ravitch has been consistent in her views that she is fearful of change in public education. She chooses to look at innovation as a threat, rather than an opportunity. Technology has the potential to improve student motivation, enhance teacher effectiveness, and improve student learning outcomes. It should also improve the efficiency of our public education infrastructure. We have a monopoly of textbook publishers controlling the gateways to student learning in schools. Opening these gateways to innovation by entrepreneurs will ultimately be good for student learning. We can keep doing things the way they’ve been done, as Ms. Ravitch would encourage, or we can continue to embrace the potential that digital technology offers for our public schools. My biggest concern is that the political influence in our education system, led by self-interest groups, will continue to prevent the needed reforms in public education from being implemented.

    While there are certainly going to be inventions leveraging technology that may be more difficult to digest, I still see the glass as half full, not half-empty as Ms. Ravitch continues to suggest. Entrepreneurs will not destroy public education – they will help bring real competition to the market-based side of public education which Ms. Ravitch fails to acknowledge when she brands entrepreneurs as solely profit seekers. Lets not forget the billions of dollars in profits that the textbook publishers generate from K-12. This point seems to always be ignored when the self-interest groups make their flawed argument.

    This blogger stands side by side with the entrepreneurs who are motivated to improve student learning outcomes and ensure our children are prepared for the digitally driven world they will be living in far beyond their formative years.


Katrina Schwartz

Katrina Schwartz is a journalist based in San Francisco. She's worked at KPCC public radio in LA and has reported on air and online for KQED since 2010. She's a staff writer for KQED's education blog MindShift.

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