EDTC: Online Learning

Chapter 4: Disruptively Deploying Computers left me with mixed feelings. I agree with much what Christensen, Johnson, and Horn (2011) mentions in this chapter. For instance, the story about Maria who wanted to learn Arabic is a great example for how effective online learning can be. I believe that these types of online courses provides a useful alternate for schools that do not offer classes, students who are home-schooled, who need to make up credits, or schools that do not have the proper funding or staff to offer various courses.

Christen, Johnson, and Horn (2011) states four factors that will accelerate this substitution for online learning. These four factors are online learning will continue to improve, online learning fits the learner’s needs, help with the teacher shortage, and the cost will fall as the market for online learning increases (p. 1790-1797). All these factors are strong indicators for the acceleration of online learning within our schools. Yet, I am not totally convinced if this approach is beneficial for our schools, teachers, and students.

The first concern I have with online learning is the simple fact of communicating with the professor or teacher becomes more difficult. Yes, one can email, skype, or chat online but I feel that ability to talk with your teacher before or after class and especially during class is a substantial advantage. The teachers or professors for online classes are not always available to talk or as prompt with responding to emails. Many times I feel that it is simply easier to talk in person rather than trying to explain your question through emails. I know the programs such as skype could solve these issues, but until the teachers for online courses are available throughout the entire school day, these problems will remain. Secondly, I feel that online learning will allow for more opportunity to cheat on tests and homework. What is to stop a student from looking up answers on his test online? Are students really learning the material or simply answering the questions just to pass the class? Are there test taking programs that do not allow students to minimize or open other programs? If this class were taken at home the student can use another computer or other resources to find the answers. My final concern is one that was mentioned by Christensen, Johnson, and Horn (2011) is with these virtual labs students are not experiencing the experiments hands-on (p. 1872). To me there is no comparison with doing a science experiment hands-on versus through some type of simulation software. The experience is completely different between the two and students will be missing out on the opportunity to actually complete an experiment hands-on. With time these problems will most likely be solved or minimized, but right now these are reasons I feel I would shy away from online learning.

eReader Highlight

What I found that came in handy with the eReader was the ability to download the software and have it on multiple computers. My wife had started her summer classes this week and she has to bring our newer laptop to class (she is at class all day) leaving me with our old and slow laptop. I love the fact that I can have this program on multiple sources; this makes it very convenient when a computer is being used so that I have an alternate method to accessing the eReader.

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

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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