Wednesday, September 08, 2004

K12 Experiences with Technology

My senior year in high school, I took a psychology class. One assignment brought the school’s set of thirty laptop computers and their wireless internet connection to our classroom. I thought it would be really fun to use these computers in the classroom, but it turned out to be a really difficult experience. First of all, not once did all the computers work. At least one was not able to connect to the internet or not able to save the assignment for one reason or another. The second, and perhaps more detrimental problem, was the lack of specificity on the assignment and the failure to monitor carefully the student’s activity on the internet. I noticed a lot of wasted time and inappropriate activity in that technological classroom. This could have been averted by a teacher who was more confident in her abilities with the computers or had written a better assignment. The experience did not kindle a great desire in me to use computers in my own classroom.

In my Economics class my senior year, we had to complete a budget assignment. The teacher took us to the library’s computer lab one day to work on it. Before we went to the lab, we had to have a list of the information we needed to find because of the limited time frame we were given. In general, this time in the computer lab was focused and useful for the completion of our projects. Still, I was concerned about some of the students in the class. Some said they would rather complete the assignment at home and didn’t want to work on it at school. These students, like some in my psychology class, saw the computer lab time as play time rather than valuable work time. Those who played rather than worked on the computers made it difficult for others who wanted to work hard on their assignment. In this case, I think the teacher did what he could as far as specifying the assignment, but strict discipline must be maintained in the use of computers in the classroom.


At September 11, 2004 9:00 PM , Blogger nicole said...

I think that your experiences in highschool are good examples of both positive and negative experiences with technology. It definately seemed to help when the teacher gave clear intructions for the budgeting assignment and how students could more effectively use their time in the computer lab. I think that having a specific goal in mind and clear instruction with in a certain time frame can motivate a student to work hard and accomplish the given assignment.

At September 12, 2004 7:33 PM , Blogger Caroline said...

Luckily, technology had grown in leaps and bounds since we were all in high school. The godd thing is (hopefully) the computer problem that happened in your psychology class won't happen because computers and wireless connections are better. But, you are right about how when computers are used, time and assignments need to be very structured, or most kids will look at it as play time. In fact, even when it is structured, students look at is as playtime. As teachers dealing with technology, we have to be ready to monitor students and also help them as many of them have never really dealt with technology before. It is a definite tool though when used correctly and should be integrated as much as possible.

At September 13, 2004 2:15 PM , Blogger JoeG said...

I agree that unless computer work is monitored, students could waste a lot of time on it. I had a similar experience in elementry school when an hour was set aside to do computer programs of our choice, like typing and math activities. Since it wasn't monitered closely or not graded, it wasn't very productive.


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