I started off this talk with a look at how the Chicago Public Schools turned to radio-based instruction in 1937 when a polio outbreak forced them to close schools. No doubt that’s the kind of history that we probably turn to when we want to consider how schools have responded to crises — and responded using education technology — in the past. We can readily see the inequalities — the failure to make sure all students had the proper device, the failure to account for whether there was a parent at home able to mentor and teach. And we understand the relevance of this story to our decision-making today.
But I want us to think a little bit more broadly about “crisis” too, about narratives about crisis shape the direction of education policy, about how the values and priorities of foundations tap into these narratives to further their agenda. After all, just yesterday, New York Governor Cuomo announced that he planned, post-coronavirus, to work with the Gates Foundation to “reimagine education” in his state.
I want us to think about what it means for education technology — in this crisis or any “crisis” — to permeate people’s homes. Education technology has been offered by its funders as the solution to educational crises for a century now. Look where that’s got us.