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					Christi Woodend EDUC6584 06/25/08 C. Simpson Computers in the Classroom: Teachers Must Become Proficient in Their Use and Application Access to technology in the classroom continues to grow rapidly. Thirty-five years ago, classroom technology usually consisted of filmstrip projectors, overhead projectors, and for the lucky few, reel-type movie projectors. Teachers were generally content with these items because lecture-based instruction was the gold standard, and these machines provided an occasional change in scenery for students, thus helping to maintain their interest. Unfortunately, as technology has expanded into the twenty-first century, many students are far ahead of their teachers in skill and knowledge, and educators who do not receive in-depth computer training lose many opportunities to use computers as a tool in the classroom to cause greater learning. A study conducted by the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory’s Technology Assistance Program and funded by the US Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement, endeavored to “document how teachers and their teaching practices changed as they integrated technology into their classrooms and to document the role that technology played in that process” (Heath & Ravitz, 2001, 2). One hundred fifty teachers were selected for participation in the study, the Applying Technology to Restructuring and Learning (ATRL) project, and they attended 72 hours of professional development sessions specifically designed for classroom-technology integration. After two years of participation, the teachers were given a survey, the Teaching, Learning, and Computing (TLC) survey, to determine their best practices, teaching philosophies, and uses of technology; the results were then compared to a national sample of 2,251 teachers of grades 4-12 in all subjects. In analyzing the data, the overall conclusion was that the teachers who participated in the ATRL project were more likely to try new software, were using computers more for class

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Christi Woodend EDUC6584 06/25/08 C. Simpson preparation, and exhibited increasingly constructivist views of instruction in comparison with the national sample (Heath & Ravitz, 2001, 4). However, these teachers also signified that they were more likely to use computers in the classes in which they felt the most successful. This indicates that many teachers, like their students, have a comfort zone and would prefer not to take any risks! Additionally, the teachers in the ATRL study increased their classroom-technology integration as they became proficient in their own knowledge and skill base. Most teachers did not grow up with computers like their students did, and this can produce a negative attitude toward technology simply because a teacher doesn’t know what to do with it. The result may be a teacher who retains “a very tight control over student actions specifying specific student products and even keystrokes, while others teachers feel more comfortable allowing students to delve independently into projects and to select software according to student needs” (Judson, 2006). Increasing teacher expertise in computer use, like any subject area, enables the teacher to competently instruct in its many uses. Furthermore, because of the vast opportunities presented by the computer for student-initiated learning, it is advantageous to the students to have a computer-literate teacher: As teachers became more comfortable with technology, they were more likely to let students use it. Once teachers allowed students to use technology and saw that many students had a certain amount of expertise, they were more likely to cede control of technology to students. Once this control was loosened and teachers saw that students worked well with technology and that their work improved as a result, they began to loosen control in other areas, granting students greater autonomy in their work (Heath & Ravitz, 2001, p. 6).

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Christi Woodend EDUC6584 06/25/08 C. Simpson Successful classroom management often stems from having students who don’t have to sit there waiting for constant direction. When students become actively engaged in their own learning process, they are more likely to achieve to a higher academic standard simply because they are interested. Both journal articles mention the importance of professional development, but neither particularly stresses it. Judson (2006) does note that “teachers with greater technical knowledge use computers more.” When research continually indicates that teachers with greater computer savvy do utilize these machines more, that only illustrates how critical it is for educators to remain abreast of the technological advances of today’s classroom. The skilled and appropriate use of computers, LCD projectors, visual projectors, and Promethean boards, to name a few, in the classroom can do a great deal to enhance the education for students of all learning styles.

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Christi Woodend EDUC6584 06/25/08 C. Simpson

References Heath, M. and Ravitz, J. (2001). “Teaching, Learning and Computing: What Teachers Say.” EdMedia 2001 World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia, and Telecommunications. Proceedings (13th, Tampere, Finland, June 25-30, 2001). Retrieved from EBSCO Host database. <https://libaccess.fdu.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true& db=eric&AN=ED466167&site=ehost-live&scope=site >.

Judson, E. (2006). “How Teachers Integrate Technology and Their Beliefs About Learning: Is There a Connection?” Journal of Technology and Teacher Education. 14 (3) 581-597. Retrieved from EBSCO Host database. <https://libaccess.fdu.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true& db=eric&AN=EJ729639&site=ehost-live&scope=site>.

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Christi Woodend EDUC6584 06/25/08 C. Simpson Reflection Reviewing these articles—and others while I was searching—increased my awareness of the importance of being knowledgeable about every tool I opt to use in my classroom. Working as a middle school substitute, I am afforded the opportunity to witness firsthand the technological abilities of teachers, and I have seen the advantages of using current equipment. An interactive white board is a wonderful tool for enhancing participation in otherwise timid students. A visual presenter is much more efficient than an overhead projector since the light source is not blocked when someone walks in front of it. An LCD projector offers much more flexibility than a simple video (or even a DVD player) attached to a television set because short clips may be shown without a lot of searching and lesson interruption. Having several computers available for student use in the classroom enables a multitude of tasks to be performed, if and when appropriate, while other students complete individual or group work at their desks or stations. Conversely, teachers who are uncomfortable with the use of technology tend to limit its integration into lessons so students often end up subjected to a good deal of teacher-centered lecturing. (Of course, there are other ways to be student-centered besides the use of computers!) What these lecturing teachers don’t seem to comprehend is that the students who learn visually or kinesthetically are not going to retain much from an oral presentation. They will probably forget what they heard the moment they walk out the door if they don’t see or use the information. My approach will be to apply these lessons to my lessons!

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