Shift in Educational Tactic–Computers in the Classroom

// Posted by on 02/14/2012 (11:12 AM)

Yesterday the New York Times published “Mooresville’s Shining Example (It’s Not Just About the Laptops”– an article about one school districts new method of teaching. All of the students in grades 4-12 are lent an Apple laptop to use throughout the school year. The method of teaching has shifted to revolve around the utilization of the laptop because as the superintendant, Mark Edwards, explained, “ It’s about changing the culture of instruction—preparing students for their future, not our past”.

This thought process if profound. It is undoubtedly that case that these students will need to use computers in order to contribute to society in any scale of a career. So why not engage them in incorporating computers in a way other than e-mail and social networking sites and expose them to the extensive power behind the tool.

Not only is this program preparing students for a life in the digital world, but it has proven to be successful in teaching students. The graduation rate of high school students has increased from 80% to 90% between 2008 and 2011. Test scores have increased at an equally impressive rate—88% of students met proficiency standard on state tests last year compared to 73% in 2008.

This program certainly does have its costs. In order to meet the financial demands of purchasing all of these computers, many teaching jobs had to be cut. This led to an increase in classroom size from 18 to 30. However, the teachers who were cut were those who were against bring technology into the classroom and the computers allow for more productive independent and group work. It also provides immediate feedback. Another benefit of the computers is that it allows shy students to participate more in small groups or through the computer. They do not have to worry about being embarrassed as they struggle through a math problem on the board in front of the classroom.

Not only does this program reap benefits in the classroom, but it also brings computers into homes that would otherwise not have access to them. The Mooreville County is fairly poor and most students do not have access to internet at home. The program allows parents to purchase internet for their home through the school. For only $10/month.

Is this the future of American education? The Mooreville schools frequently have visitors from across the country hoping to learn something from this new system. It is only a matter of time before more and more schools adapt this educational approach.

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Natalie said...

I think this follows with Sassia Sasken’s talk and her point on increasing informal knowledge. Several of the grants that she saw were improving students’ abilities to access formal knowledge. The programs that you are talking about seem to address the issues of exploring informal knowledge practices. Having the students work in small groups through their computers, sharing personal knowledge, and utilizing online social networks enhances all of these skills that are not formally taught to students. i wish that my school would have done more of this type of education. The closest I ever got to this was from my experiences working with the school newspaper; we learned how to synthesize our own work from adobe software. While I learned a lot this was only provided to a small portion of this school since it was an elective intramural.

// 02/15/2012 at 1:53 am