Monday, May 07, 2007

Don't Blame The Computer!

Some schools are dropping the computer because they failed to get the results they wanted. This is a mistake. A computer is a tool which must be integrated into the fabric of the instructional process. By itself, it will not change nor improve results. The curriculum must be modified; the teacher must change his or her role from presenter to a catalyst for learning. Opportunity must be given to students to work on real world problems.

The computer can be utilized in many ways, including:
• as a learning tool
• acquiring and organizing information
• communicating within a group
• helping to analyze data
• creating powerpoint or other presentations to the class

Remember: Do not blame the tool…the learning system must be changed, and teachers must be trained in a new learning paradigm.

Let me hear from you regarding your successful use of computers in your classroom.


Blogger Unknown said...

Creativity is the key to making good use of technology in education. You will notice i avoid the term computer and there is good reason for this.

To our learners, computers are part of the everyday infrastructure of life - nothing new, or different, just a box that provides access to the the tools they use to communicate, find information, collaborate, create, learn and achieve.

Remember that the learners we see in our classrooms now, are growing up with the web, the ipod, digital tv, mobile phones, utube, messenger, ip phones, blogs & wiki's etc. etc. and to them, these are no more exciting and new than the colour tv.

Simply placing new boxes in classrooms and expecting our learners to leap up and suddenly achieve, or our teachers to become multi-media gurus overnight is at best a little foolish and at worst incredibly poor strategy.

As a minimum, there are two things that need to take place if we are to take full advantage of new technologies in learning:

1. We need to understand that our learners now have access to a billion libraries of information and a multitude of communication tools. They use these tools every day for there own purposes and on the whole (i know there are many exceptions) we are failing to guide that use to ensure safe and productive learning. The world is available to them anywhere, anytime and they don't need a computer and a desk to do this. What they need, we aren't providing - they need guidance and support.

We must now move away from Victorian era learning where remembering facts and figures was the key to success in an industrial age. Memorizing such information is now completely irrelevant, since information can be obtained anywhere in seconds. The knowledge required is one of how and where to look safely, how to filter, how to validate and triangulate and then finally how to use such information creatively, critically and accurately.

That is not to say that memorizing facts does not still have a place. Just that the emphasis should now be on discovery, analysis, process, assimilation and creativity - in other words real higher-order thinking skills.

2. Secondly we must realize that as teachers the vast majority of us were brought up under that old Victorian system. To us the web, the mobile phone, the ipod are all relatively new (and for some of us slightly scary)inventions. How could we possibly relate and teach learners for whom these tools are just an extension of their imagination?

Simply throwing boxes of tricks into our classrooms and proclaiming that we have invested millions in new technology will not help our learners. What we need is training yes, but not just in the use of the technology. We need help in changing the culture of teaching.

We as teachers need to use and embrace the same tools as our learners. We need to walk in the same century and we need help to do this.

Teachers need to be shown how to take those first difficult steps from being the sage on the stage - the font of all knowledge, to being the guide, the mentor, the one person our learners can rely on to help them learn in the new age.

Above all we need to take a leap of faith and understand that in doing so we will be molding the future of education.

Going on a linear training course isn't going to achieve that. We need tools, support and resources. Examples of good existing practice and a chance to share that experience through collaboration with teachers locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. We need real time access to these things and we need it now!

It is possible and there are projects out there trying to provide these tools. Check out:


If you want to get involved - e-mail me!!

Bill How

4:17 AM  
Blogger Dr. Abraham (Abe) S. Fischler said...

I could not agree more with what you have written. I am sure as you read my full blog, you realize that my main thesis is that the learning paradigm must change as well as the goals of education. Those goals which you mention should be achieved by all students.

My recent entry responds to those who say we should not have computers in the classroom. Removing them, however, will not give students the ability to reach the goals that you cite. I believe that it is the school organization and structure which must be changed to accommodate the learner. I believe that the teacher’s role must be changed from presenter to motivator and problem setter. I believe that each child should be allowed to go through the process of assimilation, accommodation, and self evaluation. We must realize that this takes time and varies with each student. Let us vary time and seek mastery for each child. Thank you for taking the time to respond. We do not disagree.

-Abe Fischler Ed.D.

1:11 PM  
Blogger Samuel Sennott said...

I have had great success using computers to engage learners with special needs to read and write. Ebooks were so powerful this past summer for a particular classroom of children with a label of autism. Using the computer as a writing tool is what I see students getting excited about. The multimedia capabilities are a great feature for making writing more powerful for the students.

Good point made by the Advanced Online Project group regarding digital natives and the need to create teachers who can be truly effective guides in these new technology immersed environments.

Part of me thinks that simply time will heal this in that when the digital natives grow up we will not be teaching the technology per se. Yet, building the sound structure for this new style of teaching and learning seems to be a key link.

2:08 PM  
Blogger Steve English Teacher said...

I recently visited a classroom in Palm Beach County where a teacher uses the computers in the classroom with movie software, powerpoint and wordprocessing to encourage students to "perform their understanding" ()Howard Gardner's term from Intelligaence Reframed, pp. 162-167). I've posted a video about the visit at and you can search on the following terms: "Yuzenas visual".... If you have a visual and active "edu-taining" style, why not post some videos to youtube and then post the URL link here for others to follow? Let's show how computers can be used in the classroom.

10:54 PM  

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