Computers enrich student development
Date posted: July 5, 2013
Re: White letter, Press, June 28
The author states more or less unequivocally that computing devices in K-12 educational settings are a waste of tax dollars, adding after spending “millions of dollars” on computers “there is absolutely no evidence that any of it has resulted in improved student learning.” How it is that anyone could make such a strong indictment of a public institution and its leaders without offering some evidence for his claims?
I was a high school science teacher for 20 years and was working on a doctorate in biology when I took an education course on applying instructional theory into practice. I was so overwhelmed at what I learned personally that I changed programs and earned a Ph.D. in Instructional Technology.
I saw students on a daily basis in my classroom become not only more engaged because of technology, but demanding of more opportunities to learn via computers and all that was offered on the World Wide Web.
I saw students, who struggled to understand my most basic lectures, teach themselves the light and dark reactions of photosynthesis with a computer application. They did so by creating multimedia presentations that merged photomicrographs of the cell organelles involved in the process with the reactions displayed as more easily understood parts of the equations. They then showed (i.e. collaborated and communicated with) their classmates by actually “teaching” them what they had learned.
My personal experience and educational history notwithstanding, I would offer a challenge to do some good old fashioned “research” on this topic before asking our educational administrators to resign for frivolously spending tax dollars on technology.
I did a Google search on “positive educational improvement with computer assisted instruction” and got 128,000 hits. Screen out the articles from educational entities that may have skewed data in their studies due to prejudicial or poor statistical methodology. It’s hard to argue with anything published by the American Psychological Association, results of a study by Drs. Johnson, Roger T.; Johnson, David W.; Stanne, Mary B. indicate that, “computer-assisted cooperative instruction promotes greater quantity and quality of daily achievement; more successful problem solving; and higher performance on factual recognition, application, and problem-solving test items than does individualistic learning.”
On top of that, when kids leave K-12 schools today, they are at least basically proficient with the technology tools needed to succeed in college or required for almost any trade. That was not the case when we were sending half of America to college with only the knowledge imparted by a “sage on the stage” also known as a teacher at a chalkboard. And half were gone at the end of the first semester.
Donald E. Jacobson, Ph.D.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Press’ word length limit was waived for this letter.