Saturday, October 01, 2005

Media Advocacy

The question you never ask about a blog is whether anyone's reading it. They're not and they don't, unless of course you proactively point someone at it. Well, I have kids and a job and all sorts of things to keep me busy other than this.
But after a long silence, there are a couple of things which warrant some words, and this is the only outlet.
First, there was this piece of silliness about the matter of "computers in education".
Teachers fear computers in the classroom
IT interferes with 'genuine' book-based learning, study finds
By Andy McCue
Tuesday 13 September 2005
"Schools are failing to take advantage of IT in the classroom as teachers worry computers will interfere with traditional book-based learning, according to a new academic study."
IT journalists work from the presupposition that their job is advocacy rather than journalism. Because they're there to promote the industry - if not individual advertisers, then at least the entire sector - they forget any kind of healthy scepticism.
As a sceptic, I will note the following aspects of this kind of story.
1) Saying "failing to take advantage" presupposes a benefit. The study also gives the impression that all subjects are equal in the face of IT - that is, whatever you're doing, you can do better with a PC in front of the student.
2) The journalist doesn't mention the considerable industry sponsorship behind the study. Does that taint the research? I don't know one way or the other - but it taints the reporting of it.
3) The research came to the stunning conclusion that "creative subjects" "suffer worst" at the lack of computers. Why would a painter, to pick one, be "suffering" without a computer? Why is it a surprise to the researcher?
4) Another revealing quote: "many teachers simply lack the confidence to take the risk of using technology in their subject areas". "Risk" is not an obligation. And, of course, it could be that the teachers themselves are making an informed judgement.
Of course, the naysayers don't get a look-in. It was a single-source story written from the press kit.

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