Who Wants Educational Change?

Who really wants educational change? Not the book publishers. They are more than happy to continue in the old way. They sell textbooks to schools and as long as those books sell, they have no reason to change them. Textbooks are very expensive to write. So even if a textbook was shown to be wrong in some way, it is not be changed unless some powerful school system, such as Texas or California, demands the change. But these states, while they are concerned about education, are often more sharply concerned about political correctness or whether textbooks mention fast food, or if the appropriate drug propaganda is present, than they are in learning theory. School boards are political entities after all.

When the educational software business began in earnest in the early 1980s, the book publishers were the first ones in. Why? They were not there because they cared about the new technology or the educational possibilities. They were there because they were concerned about protecting their textbooks. They commissioned software from educational software companies that were trying hard to stay in business. Essentially, all they did was enhance the existing textbooks, pointing students back to the book as often as possible. Alternatives to the books were not considered.

This model didn't create very innovative software, of course. It was responsible for creating drill-and-practice software and games based upon the textbooks sold by those same publishers. Schools, as a result, ended up getting stranded with out-of-date computers and irrelevant software. No wonder the educational community is down on computers.

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