I was invited to contribute an article of 500 words to a special issue of Scientific American. I assumed that most of the other articles would be unalloyed cheerleading for the wonders of technology. So I decided to talk about both the promise and the perils of technology.

I have seen teachers doing amazing things with the Internet. I have gone to conferences where thousands of teachers were learning how to use technology creatively. I know that technology, in the hands of inspiring teachers, can bring learning to life and empower students to self-direct their studies.

But it is in my nature to look at questions from all angles. That is what is known as critical thinking.

So I wrote about three ways in which technology may be a danger to education.

First is the for-profit online charter school, which provides a poor substitute for real education but is quite profitable.

Second is the use of computers to grade essays, which severs the teacher-student relationship and mechanizes what should not be mechanized.

Third is the effort to impose Big Data on school issues, assuming that inputting enough data will somehow tell teachers what each student needs.

I end thus:

“Here is the conundrum: teachers see technology as a tool to inspire student learning; entrepreneurs see it as a way to standardize teaching, to replace teachers, to make money and to market new products. Which vision will prevail?”