Computer Education


Covenant College
ED 738 Research in Content Fields
Dr. Daphne Haddad
November 15, 1997



Carol E. Horner
406 Park Terrace
Woodstock, GA 30188
(770) 592-1519
(770) 641-1590 FAX
[email protected]

Outline

I. Why computerize our nation’s schools?
A. Thirty-six skills essential for successful employment

II. Computer Literacy
A. Students
B. Staff
i. training

ii. other needs

III. Trends in Computer Education
A. Integrating computers into content fields
B. Assessment for computer projects
C. Methods for teaching computer
i. equipment needs for these methods
D. Additional curriculum ideas
E. Labs vs. Classroom PC’s
IV. Benefits from Implementing Instructional Technology
A. Change in classroom environment
B. Use of students’ multiple intelligences
C. Faculty advantages
V. Barriers to Instructional Technology
VI. Cautions about Instructional Technology
VII. Reflections
Ever Since A Nation At Risk was published in 1984, America has been trying to reform its educational system. As we continue to reform the educational process, we must consider the role of technology in our schools. Realizing that we live in a technology- permeated society, educators in a variety of fields are calling for integration of technology into the curriculum. The challenge for schools is to keep pace with the development of technology. Even a five-year plan is hard to make as technology is a fast changing industry.
Oppenheimer (1997) suggests five main arguments that underlie the drive to computerize our nation’s schools.
• “Computers improve both teaching practices and student achievement.
• Computer literacy should be taught as early as possible; otherwise students will be left behind.
• To make tomorrow’s work force competitive in an increasingly high-tech world, learning computer skills must be a priority.
• Technology programs leverage support from the business community – badly needed today because schools are increasingly starved for funds.
• Work with computers – particularly the Internet – brings students valuable connections with teachers, other schools and students and a wide network of professionals around the globe.” (p. 47)

In addition to the above list, there is another important reason for teaching with technology and that is to prepare our students for the twenty-first century. Teachers throughout history have known the importance, and responsibility of preparing students for life beyond the classroom. According to Hayes, (1997), the information age is evolving into the communication age. With the exceptionally rapid rate of the growth of technology and its effect on the world, there is perhaps no greater need for this kind of student preparation than today.
Withrow (1997), a technology educator for the past forty-five years, states that the Public Agenda Report proposes that eight out of ten people believe that computers are “essential elements” for school children. Oppenheimer (1997) reports on a recent U.S. teacher’s poll, teachers ranked computer skills as more essential than the study of European history, biology, chemistry, and physics. They also said computer skills were more important than dealing with social problems such as drugs or dysfunctional families, than learning practical job skills, and than reading modern American writers such as Steinbeck and Hemingway or classic ones such as Plato and Shakespeare. I believe we need to be careful in the importance we ascribe to this piece of equipment called a computer. It is a nonliving, non-feeling object. Let’s not place it above the children we teach and their personal needs. I got into teaching to work with children not computers. However, I do agree with most educators that students need to be proficient computer users.
Computer literacy is a difficult topic. Everyone wants our students to be computer literate and yet no one wants to define the term. I believe teaching towards computer literacy is more than just teaching isolated skills. While specific computer skills are important, students need to understand how these various skills fit together to solve problems and complete tasks. Eisenburg and Johnson (1996) say that students need to be able to use computers flexibly, creatively, and purposefully. All learners should be able to recognize what they need to accomplish, determine whether a computer will help them do so, and if so, be able to use the computer as part of the process of accomplishing their task. Individual computer skills will take on new meaning when they are integrated within this type of information problem-solving process. Students will have developed true “computer literacy” because they have genuinely applied various computer skills as part of the learning process. Amico (1995) suggests that these skills can be assessed by developing a checklist of grade appropriate skills in the use of technology. Remembering that the goal is not to learn computers but to use computers to learn other curriculum content.
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