Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Computers in the Classroom: Caveat Emptor

So we are now in the 21st century; someone should inform the schoolboards.  What is challenging about moving forward with education is the continual paradigm which places the teacher at the centre of the learning experience.  Students continually externalise learning processes, not because it is natural, but because the educational system asks them to. Teachers remain the all knowing leaders of the classroom who, through a masterful art, transfer their knowledge to the students.  The main problematic with this traditional view of the classroom is that it is content oriented.  Firstly, knowledge can only be built, not transferred.  Secondly, this model has not changed since the one classroom school.
Now let's bring in the technologies. In the last 10 years many technological advancements have taken place in the pedagogical world.  Teachers now have interactive whiteboards instead of chalkboards, and students have e-readers instead of books.  Surely this is a monumental leap forward in terms of progress.  Think again; the technological tools that are predominately used in the classrooms simply reinforce a traditional teaching model.  Such a model is so far disconnected from the students reality that it is bound to fail. Of course student engagement may go up for a brief period, but this is not a sustainable effect, since students will eventually get board with the new gizmos, and since there is no change in pedagogy student interest will fizzle away. 
If placing technology in the classroom can be done (without any clear effect on learning) why not try placing the classroom in technology.  What I mean by this is: instead of adapting current technologies to an age old model; why not try to reinvent the model in light of new technologies.  If teachers do not attempt to restructure learning in a significant way either by project based learning, partnering,  or creative approaches to problem solving, another window of opportunity will have been missed to reconsider the classroom and further exploit how and why we learn. Computers in the classroom can be interesting venture, but buyer beware; it is important to know what it is you are buying.

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