Thanks for your perspective, Doug. A lot of the points you make I agree
with. I think the 'gee whiz' factor of technology often blinds us to its
shortcomings. Computers are marvelous tools, but they can never replace
teachers, books, or the spoken word. I'm fascinated by how technology
was used in the creation of Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy. Prior
to the introduction of technology into that project, there were writers,
artists, and actors plying their trades, the most important of whom was
J.R. R. Tolkien himself. It was said that Tolkien composed the work
numerous times from scratch, all without the use of a word processor.
I checked out that critical piece on powerpoint, and found a very funny
take on the Gettysburg Address would look if delivered with the aid of

- Charlie Cavanaugh

Doug Reaves wrote:

>I apologize in advance for my ignorance regarding the Performace Assessment
>Tasks (and regarding everything else, too!) that are being discussed on this
>list. However, I want to share a concern. I have looked at the ISTE
>recommendations for "performance indicators" relating to technology, and I
>am very surprised at the recommendations they have made. I will wonder aloud
>as to their developmental approprateness, educationally, pedagocially, and
>Here is a selection from the pre-k through 2nd grade:
>- Use developmentally appropriate multimedia resources (e.g., interactive
>books, educational software, elementary multimedia encyclopedias) to support
>- Create developmentally appropriate multimedia products with support from
>teachers, family members, or student partners.
>- Gather information and communicate with others using telecommunications,
>with support from teachers, family members, or student partners.
>Here it goes....Is multimedia and internet fluency a goal we need to spend a
>lot of time or money on when we have large percentages of our children who
>can't read, write, and cipher?  Electronic books? What is wrong with the
>paper kind? They're much easier to read, and talk about resolution! It is
>difficult for me to understand why we would choose to spend any of our
>precious educational minutes with our 5 and 6 year olds on multimedia or the
>internet. In my opinion, they need books, art materials, music, rich
>converstion, playground, sunshine, and trips to see the world. Our district
>can't provide them all, so what gets left out?
>Even with middle school students, I see much higher level thinking and
>analysis happen (except perhaps occasionally in math and the sciences) with
>books and periodicals as opposed to time spent in front of a computer. I
>don't believe most students are ready for the level of abstraction that
>technology demands until middle teen years and older. If we need performance
>standards having anything to do with technology, the focus should be on the
>higher level thinking and not on the buttons. Edward Tufte has a very
>interesting essay called "The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint." The thesis of
>this essay is that slideware diminishes thought because of the constraints
>in the software.
>If I were paranoid, (Who said that? I know who you are!) I might think that
>an underlying impetus for creating technology proficient children lay at the
>hands of corporate retailers who want to condition our children to feel
>helpless without the gadgets it sells. (How can I survive if I can't get my
>email?!!!). As educators, it is imperative that we not allow ourselves to be
>hypnotized by marketing and glitz.
>Obviously, I feel strongly about this subject and obviously I have not just
>made a well thought out and developed argument against too much technology
>in our classrooms, but I hope that before we jump into yet another round of
>assessment that students and teachers will have to endure, we have sound
>educational reasons for doing so. Spend time in computer labs. Objectively
>analyze what it is that students are spending their time on. Of course some
>of it is wonderful, but I feel that objective observation will show that
>minute for minute and dollar for dollar the bang for the buck is very meager.
>Doug Reaves
>Bellows Free Academy
>Fairfax, Vermont

Charles Cavanaugh
Technology Coordinator
Johnson Elementary School