Yes. They are. I would agree with that.
You could have a brand new lab of 30 pristine Macs, but if there in no one qualified to use them they become giant, shiny, expensive game consoles and internet boxes.
A SmartBoard just takes up space unless utilized by the teacher.
I think the human element is the obstacle to almost anything. In general, regardless of the topic, venue, device, etc it is usually the reluctance or aversion of the person which prevents proper use, integration, etc.
Example, from my own teaching experience:
For 1 teacher I got 8 clamshell Mac Books (circa 2001) up and running (2010), with a basic browser and an old MS Office suite. They weren't fast or great, but they worked and she used them daily. Another teacher has 2 brand new iMacs in her room. She checks email, prints out homework, etc. The students don't use them.
The 9 year old, obsolete dinosaurs get more use and impact teaching, and learning, far more than the 1 year old iMacs simply because the person using them is excited about the possibilities and knows how to effectively integrate the available resources into the teaching day.
I believe the old saying is "It's not the arrow it's the Indian" and I would agree with that. Don't blame the tool, blame the user.
I've always said, the problem with education is the teachers...
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