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The Learning Return On Our Educational Technology Investment

1503 words - 7 pages

Introduction
When I was perusing the article choices for this week, the title, The Learning Return on Our Educational Technology Investment, really intrigued me. This title seems to encapsulate the concerns of all educational personnel-from teacher to district administrator. Though all of us may define the term “learning return” a bit differently, the questions remain. “What are we getting for our money? Is this investment really helping our students? And finally, if there will be a worthwhile return on our investment, which best practices will most efficiently produce the greatest benefits?” Although the studies that have attempted to address these concerns have produced varying ...view middle of the document...

Because we are a Title I school, we also have been provided with Renaissance Accelerated Math. Retention of basic math skills has improved, and the students like the fact that they have their own individualized work. Additionally, we use Accelerated Reader, which enables close monitoring of exact reading and comprehension levels. But, for our teachers, perhaps the most attractive components of learning from computers are that it doesn’t require much teacher or student training, and it decreases the amount of time required for learning basic skills. (Kulik, 1994)

Learning With Computers
Using technology to teach basic skills, while certainly efficient, may be shortsighted. The evolution of technology has made it possible to go beyond tutorials. Moreover, students can learn much more than what is readily measured by standardized tests. (Ringstaff et al, 2002) Research has shown that “Technology is most powerful when used as a tool for problem solving, conceptual development, and critical thinking”. (Culp, Hawkins, & Honey, 1999; Sandholtz, Ringstaff, & Dwyer, 1997; Means, 1994) When interpreting the results of Apple’s Classrooms of Tomorrow, researchers noted that participants routinely employed inquiry, collaborative, technological and problem-solving skills uncommon to graduates of traditional high school programs. (Sandholtz et al., 1997) Interdisciplinary projects were commonplace, and teachers worked in teams to integrate technology. In another longitudinal study funded through a Technology Innovation Challenge Grant, researchers sought to discover the impact of project-based learning using multimedia. They discovered that classrooms were much more student-centered, and “organized around the collaborative construction of complex products”. (Penuel et al., 2000, p. 109) At my school unfortunately, there is not much evidence of this type of classroom. We are a very old fashioned school, and teachers are content to keep earning very high test scores. I believe that they fear loss of curriculum control if they embraced a more student-centered classroom. A learner-centered, interactive classroom is the one envisioned by constructivists. This model of teaching espouses “teaching basic skills within the authentic contexts…for modeling expert thought processes, and for providing for collaboration and external supports to permit students to achieve intellectual accomplishments they could not do on their own…” (Means et al., 1993, p. 2) In simpler terms, a constructivist environment allows the student to be a teacher and a learner, ask as well as answer questions, and to be assessed in ways other than traditional tests. In classrooms rich in technology, students become more engaged and active learners, and there is a greater emphasis on inquiry. I contend that the teachers who practice constructivist principles will be the ones who are able to interweave technology successfully into their classrooms.

Conclusions-Putting It All...

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