Dumb because the gadget has nothing to do with the learning. Dumb because any new thing introduced to a classroom could be considered a “gadget” which makes it sound not quite serious, not quite ready to be used by students properly. Dumb because it has nothing to do with the access to a new tool but rather how you use it. In fact, you could change this headline to truly show its idiocy thus “Do Paper and Pencils Improve Learning?” Well no, not really, but how you use them do! We have all witnessed classrooms where paper and pencils do nothing to enhance the out-dated instruction being lectured. Many of us have rebelled against the stale classroom by bringing in technology tools to connect our students with the world, to give them the tools they need to succeed, while still using paper and pencils. So no high-tech gadgets do not improve learning but how you use them can.
Yet this question keeps popping up in media and school conversations. Can tech gadgets really improve learning or is it all a rueful ploy orchestrated by Apple and its minions to get us to spend more money on it? Should we be getting rid of textbooks in favor of iPads, will students ever use paper and pencils again, what will becomes of this generation? Magazines discuss these topics as if technology means a farewell to everything else we hold dear, to everything else we know and trust. But it doesn’t. Technology adds (if used properly!), technology deepens, and it can enhance. That can lead to improved learning but only if the facilitator uses it right. Like with anything else we bring into a classroom, we determine whether it is worth it, or whether it should be forgotten. We must embrace the future but that the tools of it will be the magic pill. A poor instructor remains a poor instructor with or without the technology.