As technology continues to lead society s future, computers in the classroom are a common sight. From elementary grades throughout graduate school, schools are granting approval for the use of computers in the classroom. Each school is different regarding the use and frequency of computers in school and there are debates regarding the benefits and the risks. Whether schools allow students to have individual computers or allow time in computer labs, one thing is certain: more children are using computers in their off-school hours and are becoming proficient in modern technology. For those who have used computers in the classroom, the benefits are unquestionable. More teachers are finding the connection with computers one that enhances and benefits students learning and expands knowledge; however, teachers must supervise all computer use in order to achieve the greatest educational benefits. Children and teens should never have free access to surf websites unsupervised in the classroom. Modes of Instruction and Learning Using individual computers in the classroom often falls under the category of blended learning. This style of learning is when instructors incorporate several methods for delivering content to students. Some teachers use computers with special needs students as tools to help overcome communication issues. Computers may be used to help share assignments, engage in various activities, provide real-time communication experiences with others regardless the distance, enhance or expand lessons and increase knowledge. Mobile computing is becoming a popular mode of learning and schools are embracing technology outside of the computer lab and in the classroom. Engagement Levels Individual computers in the classroom often increase a student s engagement level in the activity, lesson or assignment. A computer helps children focus on the project at hand and can be a vital tool for maintaining a student s interest in the topic learned. Many students are genuinely interested in modern technology and will naturally engage and participate simply because computers are in use. Teachers can revitalize boring lesson plans that quickly lose a child s interest with computers and modern technology.
Computers are fun and most students learn and retain more when having fun while learning. Computers bring an element of hands on learning to the classroom that is engaging and mentally stimulating. Expanded Learning Opportunities One of the areas in which modern technology has revolutionized the world is communication. Today, computers (and modern technology in general) have made it simple to make phone calls overseas, video chat in real time with people on the other side of the globe and have enabled communication that was virtually impossible a century ago. Teachers can bring students and living experts together through virtual connections. A teacher s class of students may not be able to board a plane and fly to Antarctica for a hands-on lesson, but they can view the area virtually, use Google Earth to survey the icy land, and speak with scientists in real time. Virtual field trips are an excellent learning tool and would be impossible without the use of classroom computers. Today, children can connect with experts in any field through computers and have a fuller, more rounded understanding of their lessons. Students can chat with an astronaut, author or physicist or view an event they otherwise would miss, simply by having access to computers in the classroom. Skills and Knowledge for Future The world is changing rapidly. Innovation may be the only thing that precedes technology. New discoveries, inventions and algorithms continue to take society in new directions. Students who are not fully immersed in the technological revolution will be ill equipped to handle the future world. Students entering college without computer skills are at a clear disadvantage and need to catch up with their technologically proficient peers. Children and teens are using computers and technology for fun, gaming and entertainment, but teachers and school administrators should not overlook their educational benefits. Bringing computers to the classroom helps ensure students are ready for the world ahead. Computers in the classroom help create adults who will find their place in a technologically advanced society.
Not only do computers in the classroom assist teachers with individual lessons and expanding students knowledge, but they are also preparatory tools for the future. By Frank Winston, SoftActivity
Photo by Gates Foundation, Flickr Ms. Smith\’s third grade students have grown up with computers, smartphones, and tablets. She realizes that, while they mostly use these devices to play, they can also be used to engage students in learning more deeply. For example, Ms. Smith uses computers to help her students research and create work. There are a large variety of programs available that can help students create engaging papers, presentations, and graphics. Ms. Smith takes full advantage of these programs and sees how it benefits her students\’ learning. Before computers were common in the classroom, teachers would have to stand up in front of the room and talk endlessly about a subject. Now, Ms. Smith is able to use computers and projectors to show her students videos, images, and text that are interesting and relevant to what she is teaching. Recently, Ms. Smith was teaching her students about the water cycle. Instead of having students read about the water cycle and lecturing about it for a period, Ms. Smith was able to show a video of the water cycle in action and work with her class to play an interactive game about the steps in the cycle. Previously, it was difficult to find the time to help students who were either struggling with a topic or far ahead of other students. With computers, Ms. Smith can provide students with different activities in order to help them learn best. For example, while teaching about the water cycle, several students were not ready to move on and were struggling to master the concept. Using computers, Ms. Smith was able to have those students who had mastered the water cycle extend the concept by creating a video explaining the steps in their own words. While those students were working on their videos, she was able to help the few who were struggling to catch up. As mentioned, having computers in the classroom comes with a set of disadvantages that teachers must keep in mind.
Ms. Smith is keenly aware of these disadvantages and works hard to minimize them in her classroom. Let\’s look at the possible disadvantages when using computers in your classroom. Before you can expect students to use the tools effectively, they will need explicit instruction in using the computer. This can take some time away from traditional subjects but is a crucial part of incorporating computers into your lessons. Ms. Smith\’s students go to technology class once a week where they learn to use the computers. However, she also makes sure that students are able to do the things required for an activity before she assigns the work. For example, if Ms. Smith wanted her students to create a PowerPoint presentation, she would need to be sure that her students knew how to use the program. Students are probably used to using computers to play games or do something fun. They might associate the computer with \’fun\’ instead of \’work,\’ leading them to do less work or poor work. Ms. Smith counters this disadvantage by slowly introducing computers to her students. Instead of immediately giving them big projects and a lot of work on the computer, she gets them used to using computers as a learning tool by engaging them in small activities. After students learn to effectively work with computers, she then assigns larger projects and more work on the computers. Let\’s review. A classroom computer can be an incredibly effective tool for teaching and learning. There are many benefits that come along with having computers in the classroom such as the ability to provide more engaging activities for students, as well as allowing for the creation of more individualized lessons. But along with the advantages, there are some disadvantages to watch out for. Students will need to be taught how to use the computers which may take time out from their studies, and teachers have to guard against students getting distracted while using them. After you\’ve studied this lesson and memorized its main points, it could be easy for you to list and discuss the benefits and drawbacks of having a computer in the classroom.