EDTC 6431: Computer Use in Classrooms

I have to admit that Chapter 3: Crammed Classroom Computers was a little bit disheartening to read. Even with all the financial investment schools have spent to integrate technology into our classrooms, achievement scores have not improved. The text states that over the last couple of decades, schools have spent well over $60 billion to equip classroom with computers. Even with the implementation of computers, no measureable improvements in achievement scores have been noticed (Christensen, Johnson, & Horn, 2011). Though I did appreciate it mentioning that the next chapter will discuss how schools can deploy computer-based learning, otherwise it would have been frustrating hearing the downfall of computers without strategies to use.

It is true that typically computers in our classrooms today are used for word processing, searching the internet for information, or to simply play games. In several elementary classrooms I have seen the teachers use http://www.coolmath-games.com/ as a supplemental teaching tool when students may be finished with their homework or during “computer use” time. I really never thought about the actual teaching implications this indicates. Yes, students may be learning and refining their math skills, but beyond that is anymore occurring? Students are using the computers as a supplemental tool that is reinforcing existing teaching models when in reality these computers can and should be used to revolutionize classroom experience (Christensen, Johnson, & Horn, 2011). Though not something totally revolutionizing, the use of concept maps, especially the ones available online can help students do something more on computers. Concept maps help students construct meaning and making sense of the information through consciously or subconsciously integrating these new ideas with their existing knowledge (Vanides, Yin, Tomita, & Ruiz-Primo, 2005). Students are not undertaking the task or writing or typing out their lecture notes. Concepts maps help students illustrate and tie in ideas together. One can make the argument that making a concept map on a computer is still a supplemental tool, but how often do students truly articulate information in the form of a map? Students will be required to look and think about the information at hand in a whole new light in order to make critical connections. I hope that I can utilize computers in my classroom to their fullest potential and not some supplemental tool students’ use. I look forward to reading what the Christensen, Johnson, and Horn (2011) text has to say about computer-based learning in schools as a “disruptive”, rather than “cramming” tool.

As for the eReader, I continued to use it in a similar fashion as the first two chapter readings. Because of the ease of navigation, highlighting, and bookmarking I find myself doing these things more often. One new item that I had not previously noted was how it identifies sentences that have been highlighted numerous of times. More times than not, this indicated a key point of the chapter and I found myself highlighting these sections as well. I found it helpful to see what other people have been highlighting in the text.

Highlighting

Christensen, C., Johnson, C.W., & Horn, M.B. (2011). Disrupting class: how disruptive innovation will change the way the world learns (kindle). McGraw-Hill.

Vanides, J., Yin, Y., Tomita, M., & Ruiz-Primo, M.A. (2005). Using concept maps in the science classroom. Science Scope, 8, 27-31

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2 thoughts on “EDTC 6431: Computer Use in Classrooms

  1. Calvin,
    You’ve highlighted a very important part of the reading from this week; why are computers and other technological tools being used solely for the purpose of supplement rather than enhancement of our learning? I don’t necessarily think its a bad thing to use computers or other devices as supplement to fill in extra time or bring an extra bit of excitement to your lesson. However I do feel that there is so much more we could be doing but simply aren’t-why is that? Are these new tools too difficult to figure out or too time consuming to learn and train teachers? How about the expense of bringing in laptops or iPads for our students? I think we are just on the verge of moving from supplement to enhancement with technological tools.

  2. Hey Calvin,
    The authors indicate in this chapter that, despite a large amount of money and resources devoted to putting computers in the classroom, academic achievement have not been substantial. I do think we need to take this with a grain of salt, as standardized tests are only measuring a relatively narrow set of skills that students are gaining at school (and in their homes and communities). Even if math and reading scores have not increased, students’ competency with computers, the internet, and technology has likely increased. This is a critical skill in a world where children are being exposed to these things at home and at school, and at a younger and younger age. There is also research that indicates the social and emotional (as well as academic benefits) of such practices as online authoring through blogs and social networking.
    Now I am typically skeptical of technology-centered instruction as a replacement for traditional classroom teaching (although I’ve softened on this stance, the more I research and find valuable resources), but I do think that the authors make a blanket statement that adding computers to school has been a fruitless endeavor, without providing alternative research that may counteract this claim.

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