This section was as far as I got (which admittedly is pretty much near the end of the article.) I have a strong stomach for this kind of stuff, but I have my limits:
“Exploration: The technology should provide opportunities for students to explore by conjecturing, testing out different ideas, and making mistakes. We should avoid digital learning programs that focus only on memorization or funnel students’ thinking.”
Nothing wrong with this idea per se but the disdain for memorization is quite apparent. Kids need to memorize their facts, period, and some programs actually help them do that. We should avoid such things unless it has the trappings of “conjecture” and other sound-good words?
“Multiple Solution Strategies. Identify technology applications that have more than one way to solve the problems. For example, rather than using digital flashcards such as 3+4 = ?, we can identify apps that ask students to find pairs of numbers that add to 7. The latter question has many solutions such as 1 & 6, 2 & 5, 0 & 7 and supports students to understand how one whole number (in this case 7) can be broken into parts in multiple ways.”
This is like those problems that reformers love to have TED talks about: “The number is 28; tell me everything about it.” Or “The rectangle has an area of 36; what are its dimensions.” Everything open-ended, nothing confined. You still have to know your math facts, no matter how you dress it up, and the open-ended approach serves as just another way to avoid that. In my opinion and no one else’s of course.
“Connections between concepts and procedures. Good educational technology supports students to focus on relationships, not discrete facts. Rather than choose a digital program that solely focuses on doing the same procedure over and over, identify a program that supports students to understand why the procedure works. For example, with regards to the earlier problem 3+4 = ?, a digital program that includes other representations, such as images of objects that students move around can better support to develop meaning of the procedure. Digital math games that focus solely on procedures should only be considered after students have strong understanding between concepts and procedures.”
Yes, and no article on education would be complete without the “procedures-bad, concepts-good” recitation. Reminds me of a boss I had who whenever he used the word “strength” when talking to the people working for him, as in “you have some very good strengths” he would be quick to add “but you have weaknesses too”, ostensibly to forestall any of us asking for a raise. In the above quote note the allegiance to “understanding must come first”. Then and only then can students do all the procedures you want them to do. How’s that been working out for the nation for the past 28+ years?