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Going back to school with...

Competing Theories for Print and Online Learning

A decade ago, computer advocates and digital devotees proclaimed that kindles and other e-readers would totally replace books by 2015. They also predicted that all textbooks would be gone and students would only be reading on laptops and computer screens. Thank Heaven that did not happen.

Cuddling Up with a Book

After a brief initial enthusiasm over e-readers, the vast majority of recreational readers are again cuddling up in a recliner with a book. Aside from the convenience of lit-up screens for nighttime readers and the ability to enlarge text for the elderly, printed paper remains the preference of up to 90% of readers.

Bookstores and Amazon are doing a booming business in print. Print is alive and well.

Students Resist Online Reading

Education administrators are still trying to force students to read online, both in K–12 and college. While elementary and secondary students’ preferences for print are still being ignored, college students continue to show their strong preference for print, if allowed the choice.

The research of on-screen reading continues to show that students face serious problems in reading speed and comprehension, with additional problems in concentration including skimming and difficulty with “deep reading.”

Research Ignored

But this solid research is ignored by the half dozen pseudo-journals produced and distributed free by the computer companies to the educational community and especially to administrators.

Surveys continue to show that K–12 teachers and university professors on the front line of teaching remain highly skeptical of digital devices while administrators remain enamored with the equipment. Putting expensive digital equipment in front of students impresses parents even when it results in no educational advantage.

As the computer companies’ propaganda slogan states: “You can’t teach tomorrow’s students with today’s technology.” This causes continuous turnover or “migration” of equipment, substantial money down an electronic “rat hole” that contributes to the high cost of education.

IT’s Explosive Growth

In addition, the IT (instructional technology) departments at public schools and universities have also exploded in size, growing from the few technicians needed in earlier days to replace bulbs and adjust projectors, into departments often larger than any university academic department. That includes hiring instructional coaches without the faculty’s request, to push fuddy-duddy professors to move their courses online or make them more technology-intensive, as if that is always better.

Inferior Teaching Standards

Sadly, the more schools interpose digital devices between the teacher and the student, the less students have an opportunity to engage with teachers and grow in the many ways teachers change student’s lives face-to-face.

Over time, students are coming to accept this inferior teaching as the standard. While prior generations of students experienced some quality face-to-face teaching, many in this next generation have not.

And it shows in the most recent survey of Generation Z (students age 14 to 23) who supposedly now prefer YouTube over textbooks, when millennials did not.

This computer futurism is mainly centered in the United States, with most other nations remaining critical of replacing teachers. But starting a decade ago, surveys showed 27% of Americans had not read one single book that year, in digital or print format!

In 2007, the National Center for Education Statistics found 41 million Americans read at the lowest literacy level, essentially non-literate. And research shows that 65% of the children of such parents will themselves be illiterate.

Why Even Teach the Children?

But the futurist propaganda from the CompSpeak 2050 Institute for the Study of Talking Computers and Oral Cultures lives on. With digital devices able to read text to us, and our ability to speak into our phones and have it converted to text, they ask why we should even teach our children to read or write?

The computer-education-industrial complex wants us to move toward a “post-literate future.”

Best Thing for Your Kids

I would suggest you turn off your children’s devices and hand them a book.

Teachers will thank you.

And you just may help save America’s future.

Our thanks to Dr. John Richard Schrock of Emporia State University for sharing his opinions.

President Again

Copresco President Steve Johnson has been installed as president of the Wheaton Rotary Club for the 2018-2019 Rotary year.

A Wheaton Rotarian since 1991, Steve has served on the board of directors and has been active in international service, vocational, youth exchange and youth leadership training programs, and literacy projects.