Given the conflict that accompanies the arrival of new information technologies, it is reasonable to expect scholars and practitioners to have struggled to define the appropriate role for the devices in teaching and learning in today’s schools. Some have adopted a stance similar to that Plato adopted towards writing; they have avoided it entirely. Others are quick to adopt every new innovation. Between those extremes we find the more reasoned observers and practitioners who advocate for purposeful and thoughtful approaches to using information technology in classrooms. Todd Oppenheimer (2003) who generally argues for avoiding technology in his book The Flickering Mind observed computers “can be effective when they are used only as needed, when students are at the right age or them, and when they are kept in their place” (p. 394). David Jonassen, a scholar who studied educational technology for decades and was recognized as a leader in the field, differentiated active learning in which technology is used to “engage learners, in representing, manipulating, and reflecting on what they know,” from passive learning in which students used technology for “reproducing what someone tells them” (2000, p. 10).
We know schools are designed for the purpose of enabling and encouraging young people to fully engage with information technology so they can participate in the economic, political, and cultural life of society. The curriculum comprises those skills and that knowledge that is necessary for this goal. It is expected the complexity of society’s IT will be reflected in the strategic goals articulated by school leaders and the curriculum and instruction designed to achieve those goals. For the digital generations, the process of revising curriculum and instruction is further complicated by the changing nature of information technology in the society. Plato, we saw previously, argued against the incorporation of reading and writing into schools.
One’s perception of changing information technology depends on the direction from which one perceives the change. Older generations grew up using the information technology that is being replaced tend to perceive the arrival of IT and the transition in schooling associated with the IT in a negative manner. For them, using new information technology is degrading human cognition and students are not being taught the skills and knowledge that they value and that were necessary for their generation. Younger generations perceive the emerging information technology as natural to their future, and they tend to adopt the technologies and become comfortable with emerging information and technologies. The challenge for efficacious IT managers is to negotiate the many factors that affect the transition.