No Such Thing As Free By Nancy Flanagan

No Such Thing As Free

I heard Gary Stager speak at a technology conference, a few years back. I'd been following him for some time, via his intelligent blog posts and articles--and was very surprised that the room where he was speaking was virtually empty, with maybe a dozen people in attendance. Nearly everyone in the audience came from the previous packed keynote, held in the ballroom next door, called "Free is Good!"

Stager's remarks were provocative and smart. He opened his presentation by noting that, contrary to the fast-talking, extended commercial for Web 2-point-whatever no-cost goodies we'd just experienced, none of those tools was truly "free." Someone's making money, he said. And it's almost a certainty that the someone is not in the classroom, or even an educator. While tech-based tools can absolutely transform learning, most of them are now are serving other goals: administrative tasks, jazzing up traditional direct instruction, impressing parents and soaking up public resources in the name of "innovation." It's not about kids' self-directed learning, at all. Don't be fooled.

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