Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Students benefit from technology

Pamela Plowman’s recent guest opinion against computers for younger students in our public schools has little foundation in reality. Yes, it’s true that not just young students but all students need a high level of interaction with teachers throughout their educational experience.

The ugly truth is the average student receives about 30 minutes a week of actual one-on-one time with a teacher. Also, new evidence indicates lecturing to be highly ineffective, with a retention level of less than 10 percent, meaning that even the students who pay close attention are only absorbing a small amount of the material. Add to that equation the fact that many students get lost during lectures and never catch up.

For the integration of software into the classroom, at any level, in order for it to be effective it must be structured and controlled by the teacher. Today’s educational software is correlated to the curriculum, designed to fulfill the students’ needs using high-resolution graphics and dynamic interactivity, and structured to follow student attainment.

Today’s software, or courseware as it is sometimes called, does something that teachers struggle with daily, and that is teaching to all student learning modalities.

Courseware presents subject matter that engages all of our students’ senses—tactical, visual and auditory. Courseware allows the student to repeat material until mastered.

It doesn’t get impatient or crabby and, most important, in spiral subject matter it will not allow a student to move forward until he or she has mastered the material required for advanced study. This is where the teacher’s skills are paramount in assisting students who need that personal touch to get them over these learning roadblocks.

So, that tap on the opposition’s shoulder is that big scary monster called “change.” For those who really want that personal touch, it sounds like home schooling is the way to go.

Change is coming to schools. It is virtually impossible to name any other enterprise in America that would put up with the record-setting poor performance that our public schools have endured and not be replaced with a new model. The proper integration of technology in our schools would help us be competitive in a global economy.

The teachers’ unions will fight this as long as they can continue to rake in their bloated salaries, but in the end the students of this country will benefit enormously by the total integration of technology in our schools and, ironically, so will good teachers. And remember, “Teachers will not be replaced by technology; teachers will be replaced by teachers who can use technology.”

David C. Wray



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