I am in great pain about the state of the computer in the classroom and the sorry state of US middle-high school education. Some basic points:
1. Agreed. It is too premature to determine that computers are not doing a good job.
2. Schools only want to purchase software that matches the curriculum exactly... Unfortunately, it's the curriculum that is so woefully outdated and computers cannot be expected to fix a bad curriculum.
3. Kids in Taiwan, India, South Africa, Iran and Russia have much richer curricula than the US. The serialized science teaching (earth science... then biology... then chemistry... then physics) is totally unacceptable for a nation which leads the world in the technology and biotechnological industries. Great developments occur when sciences cross-pollinate. Why shouldn't a 13 year old be able to taste genetic engineering or a programming language without requiring a prerequisite ? They may discover their calling in life !
4. Kids get a rich computer based experience at elementary levels. Interesting educational software for teaching non-computer subjects then dries up in latter years. No wonder school is so boring for teens !!
5. How can any educational software company afford to be innovative when buying cycles are so ridiculously long and curricula attitudes so inflexible in school systems ? As an educational software developer, I have sent myself to financial hell. I have many great ideas that I would develop into products if I could be sure of a fair shake in the educational software markets.
6. I have carefully watched my children learn mountains from some great software such as SimCity (civics), SimLife (genetics), SimAnt (etymology), SimFarm (agriculture), Wrath of the Gods (mythology), Torins Passage (math puzzles), Maniac Mansion (Math), Life and Death (Surgery), Wordsmith (English Grammar), etc. None of these follow any set curricula yet all are very effective at engaging and teaching kids something significant. I have the satisfaction of seeing their knowledge increase but unfortunately this makes school even more boring.