Technology IS the classroom?

I came across this article while doing research in another class, and I found it pretty interesting:

In summary, the article talks about a new classroom model that is being implemented and reviewed in some schools, where students spend half the day in a regular classroom setting with teachers, working on projects and activities to hone their skills and the second half of the day sitting at a computer, working with software that teaches them content. Each student may advance at their own pace, and can only advance once they have passed the assessment for the unit they are working on.

I see many pros to this style of learning. For one, it is more individualized for each student and allows each student to learn at his or her own pace. This eliminates students from being too bored in a classroom and being held back when they already know and understand the material, and it also eliminates students who need more time from being pushed along when they still do not have an understanding of what they are learning. Another positive aspect of this teaching model is that teachers now do not have to spend as much time teaching content and facts to their students and they have more time to focus on deeper skills and more time to get to know their students and their learning styles, strengths, and weaknesses. The schools that have implemented this thus far claim to have seen great results, noting improvement in their students test scores. Another pro they claim this program has is that it gives students more individual responsibility for their learning, which better prepares them for college. My argument to that is that while I do think it better prepares them for college in that they are responsible for their own work, it does not help them prepare for college socially, and it also does not give them a sense of what college classes will be like, as many of them are lecture-based or discussion-based, where you are requires to listen or participate in class rather than just focus on your work individually.

There are other concerns and questions I had as I was reading this article. One of the concerns I had was about funding. The article claimed that this program would not increase cost overall, but originally to purchase all the software and computers and to get this program implemented that would cost schools a pretty penny. Some schools may not be able to cover these costs.

Another question I had was what about special education students? There was no discussion in the article about how to implement this program with students that have IEPs, or that need more one on one teacher instruction.

Another main concern I had was how unmotivated learners would be able to get through a learning model like this, as it requires the student to take responsibility to get their work done. The article somewhat addressed this concern by saying that students would have weekly check-ins with teachers to make sure that they were completing things and going through the program at a realistic pace, but I have met some students in my practicum and student teaching that I know would sit there on the computer and not get anything done. I know students who would fall farther behind in a classroom set up like this.

The last concern I had was about students’ social interactions. So many people are concerned about people from this new technological generation not having imperative social skills that they need to get through life because heir social interactions have always been through a screen. Much of what we learn in middle and high school is how to interact with our peers, how to treat people with respect, how to handle ourselves in different social situations, and I think having students spend half their days sitting alone on a computer might diminish some of that social learning. Going off this, one example of how technology is used in the classroom was that students were blogging online about a question the teacher posted, as an online class discussion. My question as I read this was why not just have an actual class discussion? I think it is good for students to get used to forming sentences from their thoughts and to practice speaking eloquently in front of other people. Just as it is important for students to learn how to respond to opinions they might not agree with in a respectful manner.

I do see a lot of advantages of using technology like this in a school setting, I just think that there are still a lot of kinks to work out and a lot of things to consider before fully implementing this in school districts.

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