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How Have Computers Changed Learning in the Classroom?

by Kristine Tucker

Computers improve classroom learning as long as teachers and students are equipped to reap the full benefits. Internet access allows students to conduct comprehensive research and communicate with other education providers beyond the four walls of the classroom. Computers also run specialized software programs that enable teachers to provide tutoring or personalized instruction for students who need advanced or remedial educational resources.

Telecommunications

Classroom computers open up a whole new world of telecommunication, allowing students to access national and worldwide educational websites. Immediate access to current materials enables students to respond, analyze, read and digest educational content that isn't available in most textbooks -- or at least hasn't made it to print yet. Video conferencing, multimedia presentations and electronic communication tools also give schools the ability to educate students, including those who are home sick or take online classes. Teachers must keep close tabs on classroom Internet use, ensuring that students aren't socializing, playing games or researching topics that don't have educational value.

Project-based Learning

Computers provide a way for students to engage in project-based learning. According to the University of South Florida, laptop computers and wireless network connections allow teachers to incorporate multiple computers into the classroom, take them on field trips and send them home with students who need to complete electronic or research assignments. Computers help students access timelines, historical data, images, graphs, scientific findings, art, pop culture, current events and music that make projects come to life. Classroom computers also allow students to share files, work on group assignments and distribute knowledge quickly and efficiently.

Teacher's Role

Classroom computers make it easier for teachers to delegate their time and attention. Programs geared toward remedial students, advanced-learning software and tutoring help teachers address the needs of students who are falling behind or require more challenging workloads. Since a teacher usually teaches to the median-level student in her classroom, computers help slow down or speed up the learning process. As long as a teacher doesn't become dependent on classroom computers -- causing her to slack off on lesson plan preparation or lose her creative edge -- computers can provide a more comprehensive learning experience. Computers also make it easier for teachers to record grades, calculate averages, report absences and tardies and maintain assignment logs. They can also use computers during break times to brainstorm classroom activities, research age-appropriate projects and locate multimedia presentations to complement academic subject matter.

Interactive Learning

Students use classroom computers to respond and interact with the world around them. For example, instead of simply reading about the Black Death in textbooks, computers give students the opportunity to research what types of modern-day illnesses pose similar problems. Or they provide access to online documentaries that teachers may not legally be allowed to show publicly in a classroom setting due to copyright laws. "Forbes" reports that education technology personalizes learning, enabling students to deploy the medium that works best for them. Interactive smart boards, online group discussions and webinars provide educational opportunities that teachers can't provide in a traditional classroom setting.

Basic Skills

Educators often use software programs and online resources to help students develop and hone basic skills, such as reading comprehension, grammar, math, spelling and punctuation. Headphones make it possible for individuals or an entire class to participate in interactive learning, allowing each student to work at her own pace. Many free online educational sites such as PBS Teachers and ABCya.org provide interactive games for students of all ages. Some basic skills require practice and repetition, so computerized games make learning interesting for students.

About the Author

As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.

Photo Credits

  • Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images