Kentaro Toyama has started 2011 off 'with a bang' on our sister Education Technology Debate site, which is sponsored by our friends at infoDev and UNESCO.
There is much to comment on in Kentaro's post, 'There Are No Technology Shortcuts to Good Education' -- to say nothing of the insights and assertions in the 100+ comments that follow it, many of them from people who are quite well known in the field. Subsequent contributions on the ETD site from Larry Cuban, Cristobal Cobo, Claudia Urrea and Lowell Monke should provide further grist for debate and discussion.
Kentaro lays out a number of arguments in his piece. One of them is the following:
"I’ve so far argued that technology in education has a poor historical record; that computers in schools typically fail to have positive impact (with the rare exceptions occurring only in the context of competent, well-funded schools); that information technology is almost never worth its opportunity cost; and that quality education doesn’t require information technology."
My aim here is not to contest (or support) any of the assertions in Kentaro's piece (I'd recommend you look in the comments section of the ETD site for this sort of thing). Rather, it is to note that, in many instances, Kentaro's assumptions about what drives policy may well be beside the point.