The hottest issue for school boards, teachers, administrators and parents these days is standardized testing:

           “Is there too much of it?”

           “How much time is devoted to test prep?”

           “Why don’t we get the results for months?”

           “How are the results used?”  

For a growing number of parents, the biggest question of all: “Should we opt out?”

Unfortunately, an issue that is at least as important as testing is being set aside or, worse yet, being decided in the shadows.  I refer to technology: how it’s being used, how much it’s costing, and whether teachers are being prepared for its adoption.

My colleagues and I have spent more than a year digging into these issues, and what we learned is alarming: most schools and most teachers are not ready; school districts are spending billions and billions of dollars every year, often without a plan; and many school leaders seem inclined to treat technology as an extension of, or replacement for, textbooks and worksheets.  In other words, they’re going to make a bad approach to education more efficient!

Some so-called ‘virtual schools’ are ripping off the public; some publicly-funded charter schools are swapping out teachers for computers because, after all, education is merely ‘knowing the facts.’  And who needs art, music, sports and other frills anyway?

Here’s an invitation: give us 56 minutes, and we will give you the world (of technology in education).  We’ll show you the ugly, the bad, and–of course–the good.  When it’s in the hands of confident teachers, today’s technologies transform learning from ‘regurgitation’ into knowledge creation.  While there’s no one correct ‘blend’ for what’s often called blended learning, step one seems to be the willingness to give students more control over their own learning.

Here’s your invitation to a sneak preview:   The link is  The password is schoolsleuth123

Because the words ‘education’ and ‘educational technology’ can turn some people away, we decided to tell our story as a film noir parody, bringing back The School Sleuth.  Fifteen years ago he solved “The Case of an Excellent School.”

With the assistance of Dr. Ruth, Tom Brokaw and Charlie Rose, this time around the aging and not-overly-bright detective cracks “The Case of the Wired Classroom.”

The film opens in a bar in New York City, where (added bonus) the sultry jazz singer is my daughter, who (with her musical partner, the piano player) wrote the song and all the music for the film.

“School Sleuth: The Case of the Wired Classroom” is being distributed by PBS, starting October 1. If you feel that the general public needs to know more about this multi-billion dollar business, please reach out to your local PBS station and ask those folks to schedule it…in prime time, preferably.  (The website is a good place to look for information about your own station.)

Thanks very much

John (AKA The School Sleuth)


  1. Excellent film that goes to the source–students, teachers and schools– to shine a light on what’s working and what’s not in the world of ed tech. This should be seen by everyone who is trying to figure out how ed tech can be used to unleash creativity, excitement and humanity in kids.


    • Thank you. I hope you will reach out to your local PBS station–and urge your colleagues and friends to do the same. I fear that school people, many of them, will be taken to the cleaners by slick salespeople pushing products that schools don’t need–at least not until they have a plan.


  2. John:

    This is a piece of art.

    Unfortunately the problem of technology in learning is not understood and the proof is in these 56 minutes.

    All the time the problem is displayed, but not see, the solution is at hand would say Frank Wilson.

    The problem with the technology is in the keyboard and mouse that are not natural for the brain: handwriting is what develops intelligence and in these times should be on digital paper with digital ink.

    I invite you to see this to understand better what I say


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