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Oversold and Underused: Computers in the Classroom [Paperback]

by Larry Cuban
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 30, 2003 0674011090 978-0674011090

Impelled by a demand for increasing American strength in the new global economy, many educators, public officials, business leaders, and parents argue that school computers and Internet access will improve academic learning and prepare students for an information-based workplace.

But just how valid is this argument? In Oversold and Underused, one of the most respected voices in American education argues that when teachers are not given a say in how the technology might reshape schools, computers are merely souped-up typewriters and classrooms continue to run much as they did a generation ago. In his studies of early childhood, high school, and university classrooms in Silicon Valley, Larry Cuban found that students and teachers use the new technologies far less in the classroom than they do at home, and that teachers who use computers for instruction do so infrequently and unimaginatively.

Cuban points out that historical and organizational economic contexts influence how teachers use technical innovations. Computers can be useful when teachers sufficiently understand the technology themselves, believe it will enhance learning, and have the power to shape their own curricula. But these conditions can't be met without a broader and deeper commitment to public education beyond preparing workers. More attention, Cuban says, needs to be paid to the civic and social goals of schooling, goals that make the question of how many computers are in classrooms trivial.

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Oversold and Underused: Computers in the Classroom + Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology: The Digital Revolution and Schooling in America (Technology, Education--Connections (Tec)) (Technology, Education-Connections, the Tec Series)
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Challenging "the belief that if technology were introduced to the classroom, it would be used; and if it were used, it would transform schooling," Stanford education professor Larry Cuban (Teachers and Machines) provides a jargon-free, critical look at the actual use of computers by teachers and students in early childhood education, high school and university classrooms in Oversold and Underused: Computers in the Classroom. Combining an historical overview of school technologies with statistical data and direct observation of classroom practices in several Silicon Valley schools, he concludes that, "Without a broader vision of the social and civic role that schools perform in a democratic society, our excessive focus on technology use in schools runs the danger of trivializing our nation's core ideals."

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Cuban (education, Stanford) has written extensively about school reform (e.g., How Scholars Trumped Teachers). In his latest work, he disputes the policymakers who have thrust computers into schools without much regard for the educators who are expected to improve students' learning with the new technologies. In fact, Cuban's 2001-2000 study of Silicon Valley schools, discussed and analyzed in the first two-thirds of the book, showed that less than ten percent of the teachers used their classroom computers at least once a week. Another unanticipated finding was that there was no evidence that information technologies increased students' academic achievement. Arguing that the educational revolution that computers were expected to incite has progressed far too slowly, he recommends that administrators involve teachers in the planning and implementation of technology plans and allow them more unstructured time, technical support, and professional development opportunities to optimize the educational benefits that computers offer. Highly recommended for academic and public libraries. Will Hepfer, SUNY at Buffalo Libs.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (May 30, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674011090
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674011090
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #737,866 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Overwritten and underanalyzed August 7, 2002
If you're looking for a thoughtful, insightful analysis of the use of technology in the classroom, this book is NOT it. Two of the book's conclusions seem unassailable, i.e., the benefits from using computer technology in the classroom have been oversold by its proponents and the technology is little used in the classroom despite pervasive access to computers. This, however, is not news, as virtually any thoughtful parent with school-age children could tell you. Unfortunately, the book is rambling, and the analysis is sophomoric and naive. It might have made a useful magazine article, but the book-length format has resulted in the inclusion of so much chaff with the few grains of wheat as to make reading this rambling, poorly argued book a frustrating and annoying experience.
The unspoken assumption that underlies the whole book is that computers represent a genuinely transformative technology that should and inevitably will result in a revolution in instructional methods from pre-school through the university level. The author investigates a number of reasons why this revolution has not yet occurred notwithstanding the pervasive availability of computers in the school systems he studies but fails to investigate or discuss one of the obvious reasons, i.e., that the technology (at least at the current state of hardware and software development) is a vehicle ill-suited to producing the author's hoped-for instructional revolution.
The author uses the advent of film, radio and television as models for the acceptance of new instructional technologies in the school systems. He fails to discuss in any of these cases the ultimate reasons for their failure to revolutionize the classroom experience, i.e., their fundamental unsuitedness to the task.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Oversold and Underused: Really? October 6, 2002
In this book, Larry Cuban details why he thinks a moratorium should be placed on all educational funds earmarked for technology. He methodically outlines the case studies of several Silicon Valley Schools. He points out that Silicon Valley, above all other places, should have been able to incorporate on a wide-spread basis technology-infused, student-centered teaching methodologies. Based on his studies, he predicts that not much will change in the near or far future as far as teaching is concerned. But he also offers suggestions as to how the desired changes in teaching might be realized. The book is interesting, well-written, and thought provoking. It may even be thought-provoking enough to facilitate the changes, he predicts will never happen.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking for technophiles and technophobes October 9, 2002
In Larry Cuban's book, Oversold and Underused: Computers in the Classrooms, the author contends that all the technology that has been infused in schools has done little to change the way teachers teach. Furthermore, he believes that technology probably will never change the way teachers teach. He researchers the technology in schools in Silicon Valley, thinking that if technology will change the way we teach, what better place to begin his research. He finds that very little has changed in the way teachers teach and children learn even in this geographical area where technology in schools all began. He gives very detailed and specific research, and then gives his reasons why he believes the way he does. He understands that technology is here to stay, but unless schools first concentrate on learning and their core and social values, technology will continue to be oversold and underused. Although I disagree with him on some of his observations, this book has certainly made me think and will change the way I make future decisions when recommending what technology should be purchased and how it should be incorporated so that it will not be underused.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Food for Thought February 17, 2003
In his book "Oversold and Underused Computers in the Classroom", Larry Cuban gives us much to consider with regard to the placement of computer technology in our nation's schools. Computer technology was touted by reformers, politicians, and school administrators as being the innovation that was going to change the way our teachers teach and our students learn. Literally billions of dollars have been spent on infrastructure, computers, projectors, software, and both mobile and stationary labs. But to what end? What, if anything, has changed?
Cuban supplies the reader with a look at schools in Silicon Valley and their attempts to bring about change through technology implementation. While teachers may use computers at home or for administrative tasks at school, they have yet to integrate technology use and bring about change through constructivist methodologies. His prognosis for change is pessimistic at best.
I believe that Dr. Cuban has presented a very valid case and has substantiated his position with plenty of good data. The book was easy to read and understand. I found the case studies to be particularly good reading. I would recommend that school board members, administrators, teachers, elected officials, and concerned parents read this book and thoughtfully consider his case.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written and worth reading May 12, 2002
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A very well written and thoughtful examination of the 'challenges' faced by k-12 educators dealing with the general public's view that getting computers into the schools will improve learning. The book supports a number of ideas I already subscribe to (making me a decidely biased reviewer) -- essentially, putting computers in classrooms is not enough (Alan Kay's observation that there's no music in a piano is one of my favorite succinct statements on this subject). Cuban reveals himself to be somewhat unsophisticated with computing tools/techniques, but I'm not sure this is a bad thing - he's an educator, not a 'tech-geek' and the educator's point of view on the subject of computers in the classroom has not been heard well enough in the past few years.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Oversold
Computers spend much of their classroom time unused and collecting dust. Are computers an advantage or a distraction in a class?
Published 15 months ago by EvaM
4.0 out of 5 stars Gives you something to think about
I purchased this book while I was working on a semester long project for my master's degree. I personally feel that computers are not used, in my local schools, enough; especially... Read more
Published on November 15, 2011 by R. King
3.0 out of 5 stars Are they really underused?
The book contains a lot of good information, including surveys, and observations. I do however, have some questions. Read more
Published on March 17, 2003 by Joe Stepniak
5.0 out of 5 stars Every school should read
Oversold and underused is a great read (informative and precise) for any school personel who are interested in learning more about what is happening or may happen with your... Read more
Published on February 19, 2003 by G Doug Scotland
5.0 out of 5 stars A problem shared by the entire nation!
As teachers, we all get frustrated with the limited technology in our schools. We have the equipment, but it isn't adequate for all of us to use. Read more
Published on February 16, 2003 by "shannan98"
5.0 out of 5 stars Are Computers in Schools Worthwhile?
School reform has a long history over the past two centuries. It is usual to blame schools and teachers for any current perceived failures. Read more
Published on January 2, 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good book for teacher.
I am Korean teacher at elementary school.
I think this book is a good book to understand
between theory and practice. Read more
Published on October 20, 2001 by Kim, Young-ok
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