Feb 19 2008

Pogue on Education

New York Times columnist examines K-12's state of technology.

David Pogue, personal-technology columnist for The New York Times, excels at finding and explaining the intersection between new products and today’s harried, online lifestyle. He probes beyond the latest developments and gadgets to glimpse just how these products will or won’t affect people’s behavior.

So when he turned his focus specifically to K-12 education after a February speech to the Texas Computer Education Association, his insight, as always, was worth listening to.

In an exclusive interview with EdTech Focus on K-12, Pogue was asked about the technology gap between digital students and analog teachers. “Older people have a harder time adapting to new technology. It’s true and it always will be true,” he said.

Even as today’s older teachers are replaced by younger teachers who are more familiar with technology, Pogue said, “Kids will adopt [new technologies] faster and sooner than [adults] will. A teacher’s job is to go to conferences and keep up, but the gap will always be there.”

The columnist also said that while today’s teachers need to understand the importance of video skills, essays or research papers are not going to be replaced by homemade movies. “It’s always more stuff,” he said. “[New skills] get added on, they never replace old ones.”

In addition to his weekly newspaper column, Pogue writes a blog for the paper and produces a weekly online video post. He’s also a tech correspondent for CBS News, and his trademark comic tech videos appear each Thursday morning on CNBC. The author of more than 60 books, including the Missing Manual series, Pogue also finds time to serve on the technology committee of his local board of education in Westport, Conn.

He marveled at the podcasts and wikis that his children create in school, but noted that today’s children aren’t wowed by this technology, but more likely to take it in stride.

Pogue said the common thought that schools run behind the business world in terms of adopting new equipment and Web 2.0 strategies isn’t true anymore. “There are a lot of businesses still running Windows 98,” he said. The bigger dichotomy is between schools and what’s available in most students’ homes. Schools need to push forward to match what many students see in their homes, which is a seamless integration of Internet, chat rooms and homework, he added.

In his speech at the conference, Pogue touched on many of the topics he has written about in the past, such as how Google provides many services to cell phone users, speech recognition software and Internet innovations. Pogue said online businesses continue to sprout up. As examples, he pointed to Grand Central (), the company recently purchased by Google that offers users one phone number for all their devices, plus a host of other features; and Go Loco, a fairly new Web site that aims to help people and communities create their own transportation network by sharing rides to various locations.