In Edtech Is Trapped in Ben Bloom’s Basement,1 Jared Silver identifies a paradox in learning technology: technically, our gadgets and software are more sophisticated than ever, but the learning goals that this technology serves tend to be stuck in the basics. Educational technology should be helping us analyze the world around us, evaluate claims, and create new possibilities, but too much of what we do is focused on memorization, paraphrasing, and simply following instructions.
Despite the title, Matt Greenfield’s Sources of Hope for Education Technology in 20181 presents a sobering account of the challenges we face in leveraging technology to improve educational outcomes. The past year has reminded us that progress depends on meeting minimal conditions such as having electrical power and well-maintained facilities. Even when those requirements are met, though, a crucial question remains: does educational technology do anything to narrow educational inequality, or is it actually expanding those gaps by providing benefits only to the affluent and their children?