Light Offerings

Why use computers for learning in schools?

Posted by jturner56 on April 29, 2017

Have been working on some practical projects, so not much time for blogging of late. But what has become apparent is that to generate educational ideas and progress of any substance one has to work hard to better understand the beliefs and practicalities that drive teachers and schools.

When it comes to digital, Andrea di Sessa summed it up well in Knowledge in Pieces (1988):

How one intends to use computers to aid learning depends in a dramatic way on what one thinks is important in learning.”

But if one can get beyond this, what can computer technologies bring to the learning equation. From my experiences these are

  • the instantaneous cognitive feedback that computers can provide the user and in doing so promote personal learning
    – as evidence in the adaptability of handling new software to responses to “what if” in spreadsheets
  • enhanced support for reflective thinking
    – as can be seen in word processed redrafting and problem solving through coding
  • new information processing opportunities and challenges
    – which we can now access through a hyper-connected world
  • creative opportunities for personal expression
    – from coding to digital art, personal ideas and intentions can find roots
  • personal control of materials
    – be it online courses of personal inquiries

All these can link to and from digital microworlds of learning.

Yet we still are beholden to an education system that in the main not only values Instruction, Industrial Structures and Closed Knowledge above all, but also seems to think that such a systemic approach can assimilate without accommodation to digital.

As an example, perhaps that is why we are still trying to understand why, after going on 40 years, Spreadsheets (as one example) is either an add-on or option within the school education complex.

Yet school can also be environments of ideas and hope. And as the saying goes, “where there is hope….:”

disessa, Andrea A. (1988).Knowledge in Pieces. In Forman, G. and P. Pufall, eds, Constructivism in the Computer Age, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Publishers.

One Response to “Why use computers for learning in schools?”

  1. Hi, John, This is perfect to quote for my last literature review before I start the dissertation in the next year. Thanks.

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