Do you think the time has come for a computer on every desk, allowing for document and other types of collaboration in the classroom, electronic tests, and online homework assignments?

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For learning purposes I believe the time has come for every student to have a computer. Teachers are no longer the fountain of knowledge. We need to teach our students how to find that knowledge in the digital world they live in. We alos need to teach them how to analyze the knowledge they found and apply it to their lives. As for testing, there has been some research (sorry, can't site it) that special ed students do better with clicker type quizzes than paper and pen quizzes even if the questions are identical.

Even though I believe that, there are too many stumbling blocks to make it a reality.

Sadly school finances are not keeping up with the ability to put a computer on every desk.

Sometimes the technology doesn't work properly to be able to always give electronic tests. One day our students were supposed to take an online test required for graduation. High stress for the students and teachers. On this day the state's servers crashed. On other days our Moodle wasn't accessible.

In our school district about 40% of our students fall in the free and reduced lunch category. About 40% of the students do not have Internet access. (It's not always the same students in both categories) Because this number is rather high, we can not require that students turn in their homework online.

Ideally, I think students should be using the computers more often to learn. Realistically, we're not there yet.
Julie,

As I read your post, do you do much with cooperative learning in your classroom? What classes do you teach? I teach Marketing and I am always trying to think of way to incorporate cooperative learning with technology into my classrooms. I like the idea that students work with each as well as integrating technology into my lesson plans.

Bubba
Bubba,
I used to do a lot with cooperative learning but now I use mostly partner work instead. I teach German as a foreign language and with partner work, my students often use their German abilities to accomplish the task. When I had cooperative learning (group work), most of the language used was English instead of German.

Like you, I also like the idea of students working together. Usually when we read a short novel in German, my students end up in groups of 2 to 4, self-selected groups, and they have a project to complete. It might be capturing a chapter using Pixton or creating a movie over a chapter. We did a wiki once where every group in the class had a specific task to contribute to the wiki. I enjoy these projects but once again the language the students use when talking to others about their project is English. I can't blame them. Their minds pick the easiest language for communication. Therefore I try to limit such projects to once a trimester (every 12 weeks). If I didn't care that they spoke a lot of English, I would try to plan more projects involving technology.
I do think the time has come. I think our kids should be able to use computers for research and collaboration inside as well as outside the classroom. However, I think we should be careful that students don't become dependent on technology for "answers." Teachers should make sure they are using these tools to develop critical thinking, not just for "answers."
I agree with you on your statement. While, a computer on every desk could be quite beneficial for many reasons (online homework, research, ease in taking notes, etc), I think students could also become dependent like you said. There needs to be a time and place to use the computer, not for sole use. Students also need to know how to look answers up through other methods and learn how to think on their own. They also need to know how to brainstorm with other students and have an engaging discussion. Otherwise they will be lacking in several life skills that a computer cannot necessarily do/provide for them.
They can brainstorm with other students using a computer and why do they need to know how to look up this other ways? I can not tell you the last time I used an atlas, dictonary, phonebook, encyclopedia, etc. It's all on line and with more current information. Also, simulation games do teach students to think on their own and sometimes technology is better for promoting problem solving because of the level of complexity involved. I am not saying that not using a computer is bad. However, I think you may be limiting the power computers can have with the right tools in place.
I think it's important to note that if the answers don't require thinking it's not the fault of technology but rather a flaw in the question. Books don't think for people and neither do computers.

I'd also argue that a computer can provide some really great ways to brainstorm and hold a discussion.

I'm not sure why we assume that students don't spend a lot of time talking to each other even with heavy computer use. It's not like teenagers forgot how to talk to each other in person when they spent hours on the phone back in the day. Musicians who spend hours and hours, day after day, don't suddenly find themselves incapable of speech. What's the difference?
Your last paragraph made me laugh. In 26 years of teaching, I think students are more talkative than they used to be.
To me mobility is key to improving educational collaboration. Mobility can make a difference in how students learn and teachers teach by allowing students and to enjoy access to the Internet, wherever they may wander or their homework takes them. The nonprofit I work for is launching a secure, mobile WiMAX service strictly for schools and nonprofits. The network operator is Clearwire but the service will be offered by the nonprofit I work for at reduced rates to any school or school district in the cities were we hold broadband spectrum. We are looking for pilot school sites in Portland OR, Vegas, Chicago and Philadelphia. Let me know if you are interested in providing feedback and/or trialing on our mobile WiMAX service for education.
I do think that it is time to have a computer on every desk. But, first I think it's time for educators to conceive of the learning experience in different ways. Computers enable students to become producers of knowledge and not simply consumers of information. The right kinds of educational activities must be developed and facilitated that enable students to actively participate in their own learning, a learning that will not only benefit students but the world in which they live.
If we can include a netbook in the definition and not just a desktop, I say yes. It is a little ridiculous to have to sign up for the most powerful learning tool in the school. Netbooks are becoming affordable enough that each student could be issued his or her own, especially if we converted to digital textbook. Maybe happening soon, considering what is happening in California.
Interesting.. Has anyone had any experience with giving out netbooks at the school? We find that netbook form factor (screen size) is not large enough to do much meaningful work with, not to mention that they can easily be broken, lost, or stolen. Since most kids have some kind of PC at home, would seem like having an access point to web apps in the classroom, and access to the same web apps from home should do the trick?

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