Digital Education

The Hechinger Report keeps a close eye on ways that technology is changing the ways we teach and learn.



Bill Gates (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Ed tech promoters need to understand how most of us learn

By Annie Murphy Paul

When Bill Gates was still a teenager, he would sneak out of his family’s house before dawn and ride his bike to a building on the campus of the University of Washington. He had discovered that the university’s huge supercomputers were idle between the hours of three and six in the morning, allowing the budding […]

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Growing pains: Can disruptive innovation benefit students?

By Michael Horn and Richard Whitmire

Why do organizations struggle so much with the innovator’s dilemma? It’s not hard to grasp. Kodak, DEC, Sears, Xerox and Bucyrus Erie saw their empires fade because when disruptive innovations appeared, they did not look like opportunities that made sense to chase. For example, with profit margins of film/processing/printing so high, why would Kodak shift […]

Woodland Park fourth grade students near Norfolk, Neb., watch a video in class. (AP Photo/Norfolk Daily News, Dennis Meyer)

Ed tech that needs nothing but a TV and VCR?

By Annie Murphy Paul

MIT BLOSSOMS, one of the most exciting and effective uses of educational technology to help high school students learn math and science, doesn’t boast the latest in artificial intelligence or adaptive algorithms. Its secret weapon is, rather, a canny understanding of human psychology—both students’ and teachers’. Technologically speaking, its basic model could be executed with […]

Kiara McPherson and Jeremiah Hilliard, two students at Em Boyd Elementary, work on a science project. Students say they prefer the iPads to the desktop computers that they used to use in class.

In Mississippi schools, access to technology lacking, uneven

By Jackie Mader

CLINTON, Miss.—When Kelsi Collins was first given a laptop last year at Clinton High School, she hesitated to change from years of reading textbooks and writing assignments by hand to researching topics and typing papers online. It didn’t help that, after she’d ignored teachers’ warnings to back up her work, her computer crashed and she […]

A student points to a coin and touches it as he works on a math project on the SMART Board, in his Southwest Elementary School classroom in Jefferson City, Mo. (AP Photo/The News Tribune, Julie Smith) No Reproduction

Is the body the next breakthrough in education tech?

By Annie Murphy Paul

Today’s educational technology often presents itself as a radical departure from the tired practices of traditional instruction. But in one way, at least, it faithfully follows the conventions of the chalk-and-blackboard era: it addresses itself only to the student’s head, leaving the rest of the body out. Treating mind and body as separate is an […]

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Why schools’ efforts to block the Internet are so laughably lame

By Annie Murphy Paul

As schools around the country have rolled out one-to-one computer initiatives, handing out tablets and laptops to their students, a sour note has often intruded on the triumphant fanfare heralding these programs. Within days, even hours, of the devices’ distribution, their young users have figured out how to circumvent the filters meant to block access […]

Terra Graves, a tech specialist from Washoe County, N.V., modeled the new technology training MOOC available to teachers nationwide after the Pathway to Nevada’s Future project, a statewide online training course she piloted from 2009-2011. The online course, shown above, trained 97 teachers from districts all over the state in technology integration in the classroom.

For rural school districts, where is new tech training available? Online, of course

By Alexandria Neason

ATLANTA – For teachers in rural areas, technology training for classrooms can be elusive. It’s one reason why swarms of teachers, smartphones in hand, crowded around a small table covered in bar coded stickers at the annual International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference, eager to learn. They listened intently on Sunday as Terra […]

Educational technology isn’t leveling the playing field

By Annie Murphy Paul

The local name for the Philadelphia neighborhood of Kensington is “the Badlands,” and with good reason. Pockmarked with empty lots and burned-out row houses, the area has an unemployment rate of 29 percent and a poverty rate of 90 percent. Just a few miles to the northwest, the genteel neighborhood of Chestnut Hill seems to […]

Netflix’s founder saves the day for one education software startup

By Richard Whitmire

It’s almost a cliché to say that business plays out differently in Silicon Valley than in, say, Philadelphia or Kansas City, but it’s true, and the fate of DreamBox Learning illustrates the point. John Danner “discovers” DreamBox and mentions his discovery to his friend and Rocketship supporter, Netflix founder Reed Hastings. After Hastings sees DreamBox in action at a Rocketship school, he e-mails his friend Dan Kerns, DreamBox’s chief architect (the two worked together several years earlier; in Silicon Valley, all the best software engineers know one another) to say, nice job.

Fifth graders Aiyanah Tyler, Trinity Coker and Hakim Walker work with 13-inch Apple MacBooks from late 2009 running Mac OS 10.8.5 at James G Blaine K-8 school in Philadelphia Monday, June 2, 2014. (John Brecher / NBC News)

Can high-poverty urban districts like Philadelphia close the digital divide?

By Sarah Garland

When it comes to speedy Internet access in schools, which technology advocates say will be critical to ensuring that American students stay competitive globally, Philadelphia is way ahead of many districts across the country. In the Obama administration’s new ConnectED initiative, an effort to redirect $2 billion in federal funding to put high-speed broadband in […]

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