Giving Compass' Take:

• The author discusses the impact of education technology, especially as it relates to strengthening how students learn about democracy and critical thinking in the classroom. 

• There are challenges with ensuring technology is helping education rather than harming it. How can donors help drive progress toward effective education technology?

• Read more about the role of technology in education. 


I invest in education technology, but decades before I knew what a venture capitalist was, I was a history teacher in a small town in America’s heartland where I started my school’s first “Internet club.” I’m a believer in the merits of technology and have written about how technology can be used to broaden access to knowledge, connect people and even improve empathy.

But 2018 marked an inflection point for education technology that most investors and developers did not see coming. It surfaced biased algorithms, irresponsible advertising, privacy incursions, fake news and screen-time addiction—all especially concerning for those of us who believe that while technology is no magic elixir, it is an essential element of our education system. While I see technology as a powerful force for good in education, its deep and unchecked infiltration into our kids’ everyday lives may be undermining the work of our teacher—and even the purpose of public education.

Technology is helping schools get increasingly better at offering a more tailored approach to education; moving away from the one-size-fits-all model. So much of this progress is welcome and long overdue.

But I’m afraid this progress will stall if we do not urgently tend to an issue that is truly fundamental to our education system. Our public schools were designed with a clear purpose: to educate our citizenry so that democracy could thrive. Our schools are inextricably linked to our democracy.

In short, a strong democracy is dependent on students’ ability to discern credible sources of information and use evidence-based arguments. In an age where media options have exploded and consumption is at an all-time high, it’s more important than ever that we are nurturing citizens who are intellectually rigorous and independent.

Read the full article about technology and civic education by Jennifer Carolan at EdSurge