Δευτέρα, 19 Δεκεμβρίου 2011

Tech experts say no to classroom computers!!!!!!

In the article, ‘Computers ok? Not in Silicon Valley', Alan Eagle, executive communications employee at Google, declares, "I fundamentally reject the notion you need technology aids in grammar school."

 


Eagle's two children attend Waldorf schools, which subscribe to a teaching philosophy centred on physical activity and learning through creative, practical tasks. Similarly, the chief technology officer of eBay sends his children to a nineclassroom Waldorf school in Los Altos, California. So what's behind this resistance to technology in modern-day learning environments? Commonly, those who support the low-tech approach believe computers inhibit creative thinking, movement, human interaction and attention spans. Real engagement, they argue, comes from great teachers with interesting lesson plans, not machines.

So what's behind this resistance to technology in modern-day learning environments? Commonly, those who support the low-tech approach believe computers inhibit creative thinking, movement, human interaction and attention spans. Real engagement, they argue, comes from great teachers with interesting lesson plans, not machines.



Interestingly, psychologists are seeing a growing number of children suffering from learning deficits associated with shortened attention spans. Parents need to be wary of allowing young children to use computer programs/games that see their attention jumping from one action/activity to the next. This can cause significant issues in later life. Kids should be encouraged to take up activities that extend their attention span and give them opportunities to think, analyse, reflect and be immersed in their imagination. Jigsaw puzzles, Lego and story writing are just a few activities that will assist. I have also seen a growing number of educational games stores that parents of young children should investigate.

Of course, there are many experts who, in contrast to some of their peers, strongly endorse the use of computers in schools. Ann Flynn, director of education technology for the National School Boards Association in the US, is one.

Flynn states, "If schools have access to the tools and can afford them, but are not using the tools, they are cheating our children."

As a psychologist and educator of more than 30 years, I believe the fact that we have schools offering distinctly differenteducational approaches is ideal. What works for some students, won't necessarily work for others.

In saying that, however, when starting Edworks 20 years ago, I implemented a no-computer policy. Studies then, and since, have indicated they offer no educational advantage for students.

On the contrary, computerised learning tends to promote ‘answer driven' learning, which simplifies learning to the point where students only see the answer, rather than the learning process, as the objective. Conversely, Edworks' personal programs, delivered by a tutor at the student's desk, promote divergent thinking (more than one possible answer), which fosters abstract thinking and creative problem solving.

It was interesting to learn recently that one of our top year 11 students was recently given a laptop from his school. He told me that after a few weeks he stopped using it as he found that it did not offer any real advantage to the higherorder thinking that the final years at high school demand.

Essentially, computer-based programs tend to ignore the importance of concrete thinking, deductive reasoning and understanding concepts, and do little to promote the idea of independent learning.




So, while at Edworks we don't quite allow kids to learn fractions by cutting up quesadillas and cake, we do recognise the distractions and limitations computers can have in a learning environment. Therefore, we and opt for the tried and trusted alternative, which promotes the use of imagination and lateral thinking.

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