>Computers in the Classroom


>Over the past two decades, parents, public officials, educators, and

>employers have come to expect schools to use computers so that students

>can learn more, faster, and better. Parents want students to use

>computers as a gateway to better jobs; public officials and employers

>want graduates who are skilled in the use of technologies; educators want

>computers to improve how teachers teach and how students learn.

>Considering all of these goals for computers in schools, how do teachers

>and students from kindergarten through college use computers in their

>classrooms for instruction? Larry Cuban will report on his study of

>computer access, use, and outcomes in Silicon Valley schools.


>Larry Cuban has been a teacher and administrator for 25 years in public

>schools. For the past two decades he has been a professor of education

>at Stanford University where he has written histories of teaching,

>school reform, and technology use in schools. His most recent book is

>Oversold & Underused: Computers in Classrooms.


Larry Cuban began his talk by saying that much of the research that has been done looking for ways to move learning from a teacher-student downloading situation to more of a student centered interactive creative environment. Despite this, there has not been a lot of movement from traditional classrooms to something else.

The perceptual game is that schools can't afford to ever catch up with the state of the art in technology, and for schools that are funded strictly by property tax revenue, this is always going to be true. However, there is no shortage of computers in the classrooms to evaluate. Since 1984, when Apple gave a free computer to every school in the State, computers have been going into classrooms. There are now many schools where availability of computers is not the issue.

He then spent some time describing the way they gathered information for the book, basically surveying all of the teachers at all of the schools on the peninsula during the 1998 and 1999 time frames. They basically found that very few teachers use computers much as part of their daily teaching style. The statistic was that if a "heavy user" is one who uses computers in the classroom at least once a week, then less than 5% of teachers are heavy users.

There are case studies where somebody used computers to do remarkable things. One example was a teacher who stocked some computers with pictures and information about various historic utopias, and had her students build their own utopias. Another case involved an interactive math curriculum to guild students to better understanding of the subject. These were the exceptions. For the most part, teachers have found computers more useful outside the classroom than in it.

Tian Harter