Resources and Reflections

Friday, January 11, 2008

Four ways to teach with computers

Many teachers will not hesitate to post good student work on a bulletin board in the classroom or the hallway but many are reluctant to post to the world. If the work has value beyond the classroom, then inform the world because you never know who it might impact. A student is more empowered knowing they are an agent of (social) change.

Tech success depends on a well constructed unit with assessments that validate criteria and learning objectives.

Kids are not tech savvy when it comes to teaching themselves to master learning content. The other day my wife’s niece helped program her phone (in seconds) with fancy ringtones , background images, clever txt msging maneuvers. Great! This is her world. Out of curiosity – and not to defame her – I asked my wife’s niece about her computer experience at school. Specifically, I asked her if she could show me on my computer tools she uses to assist her writing a paper. Her demonstration conveyed copy and paste; formatting tools like bold and italics- and fancy fonts; colors and inserted images completed her showcasing. Besides the bells and whistles, I asked what tools she used to help her write better papers. She did not understand the question. How do you use technology to assist the writing process? She told me there wasn’t any on the computer but that she would make change based on her teacher’s feedback and when the paper was readable she would type it adding colors and pictures. There was no doubt she was being taught to write, albeit passively; but she was not being taught to write using a computer.

There are four ways to teach with a computer: as a tool to showcase work; as an assistive learning tool; as an interactive tool; and as a tool to teach the learning. One of these isn’t the best way to teach with computers but too much emphasis on one approach is to neglect effective teaching and learning. Teachers tend to emphasize using the computer as a showcase piece allowing students to jazz up work. Using computers to teach the learning requires extensive knowledge of the software many teachers fail to take the time to do.


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