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Software in the Classroom: Does It Really Improve Learning?

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The two educators are talking not about school-age students using software in the classroom, but older individuals using educational software in an online course. Their short article does not indicate what they think about the federal review of some of Carnegie Learning’s software and its ineffectiveness as far as student achievement: Again, there’s a tendency to equate using computer technology with innovation and improved educational outcomes.

A $2.2 Billion Business

Classroom-based software is a $2.2 billion a year business though the jury is still out about how, and if, it really makes a difference in student learning. There’s no question that computers and online courses will be part of the educational future for many students. But the less than stellar results (as measured in students’ standardized test scores) of Carnegie Learning’s software should remind us that “educational innovations” do not go hand-in-hand with students learning.

My own college classroom is outfitted with a computer with internet access and an LED projector. I often show students maps of the ancient Mediterranean world, photos of Greek and Roman art and the ruins of buildings and much more that is readily available on the web; gone are the days of dragging in slides and a slide projector. But students look at webpages all the time and computers (or at least the one in my classroom) can freeze and crash. The best teaching innovation of this school year for me so far has been two 99 cent boxes of colored chalk I got at Target (the college of course provides white chalk but not chalk in rainbow hues). Writing and circling and underlining ancient Greek and Latin words in different colors can catch student’s attention more effectively than showing the yet another webpage on a screen.

Some research about “traditional” teaching technologies versus the latest new software products might be revealing.

Plural declension of the definite article in ancient Greek (all 3 genders)

Photo of the plural declension (in masculine, feminine, neuter genders) of the definite article in ancient Greek by the author


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10:09AM PST on Nov 18, 2011

I say no, no, NO!! Unless you want to raise robots....we are evolving towards "star wars"!!!! except for the few of us that will remain with the earth and in our own communities....then our children don't need to succumb to that world.....and have a chance to live many more years!!!!!

1:29AM PDT on Oct 11, 2011

This article asks good questions. It's worth looking for some answers.

10:01PM PDT on Oct 10, 2011

It is pointless if what you learn is indoctrination. Right now we are being indoctrinated and that amounts to being dumbed down. The only worthwhile lessons are those that reflect the analytical truth and allows the student to think for themselves. Exams are for slaves and serfs. The Mortar boards on students heads are just symbols of an education system that is dominated by the Elite Illuminati who intend to kill us all anyway when and how it suits them.

4:08PM PDT on Oct 10, 2011

Thanks for the article.

3:19PM PDT on Oct 10, 2011

A similar debate is going on in the UK but the issue here is that "computer science" has been dumbed down. You now learn how to use Excel and Powerpoint instead of machine code and BASIC coding. In the 80's you had a generation of people who could code and use the same logic in other forms of problem solving. Heck, it even helped me in orbital mechanics in my Aerospace degree.

Teaching kids how to use software my gran could use isn't benefiting them at all, as the software will have changed by the time they get a job anyway. School is about developing social skills and learning the fundamental basics of English and Math(s). If the 10 yo child wants to sit in front of a computer let him/her do it at home!

Oh BTW, a person's intelligence cannot be measured on how quickly they can recite something off Google, but on how they retain that knowledge and the ability of adapting and using that knowledge in their own lives. People seem to be less able to make common sense judgements these days and are more likely to go along with "what the computer says" which I personally find disturbing.

12:39PM PDT on Oct 10, 2011

Have you ever seen the textbooks for high school math? They have paid advertizements, sports, and junk culture to sell soft drinks, rap music, and McDonald's. They are more corporate indoctrination than mathematics and they replace the textbooks in college elmost every year at great expense to students.

12:28PM PDT on Oct 10, 2011

It probably adds fun but also wastes time and I'm not very positive that it helps to improve learning/teaching.

11:51AM PDT on Oct 10, 2011

Thanks for the article.

10:18AM PDT on Oct 10, 2011

I wrote a letter to my grandson recently and he called me to let me know he had trouble reading it because I wrote in cursive. He is a very smart young man often making the Principles list but had a problem reading cursive and he said they never write in cursive in school anymore.

I also find fault with what they teach in the first couple of years in school because they try to teach too much too fast. The foundation of all learning is still and will always be reading, writing and math, without these things nothing else is possible. Finland has one of the TOP school systems in the world and we should be emulating it.

Technology is great and has its place but we should never turn our children over to a computer, they deserve better from us.

10:03AM PDT on Oct 10, 2011

When I see all these computers in the classroom, even though I am on one now, I think of Orwell and the 1984 we thought we escaped.

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