Students, Teachers, and Computers

“Students of almost every age are far ahead of their teachers in computer literacy,” said Mortimer B. Zuckerman in the October 10, 2005 editorial “Classroom Revolution.”

I think that’s an overstatement. Of course, I could be the exception.

My sons are much better than I am in computer literacy, or so I think. We all three use our computers for hours. They post to message boards. I blog. But it may be that they know as much as I do and that seems like more because they’re 13 and 14.

But last year in my college classroom I didn’t have a single student who knew what a blog was. And I’d been blogging for a year and a half at that point. So I don’t think that’s “far ahead.” This year I had eight students out of fifty who knew what a blog was. So I’m still ahead. They could have blogs; I don’t know.

But how to integrate the computer into the classroom? That’s the real point of the editorial.

I think it would be easier to do if I were assured of having daily classroom access to computers over more than a single semester. I have only taught one class in which we had daily access. The first time through you don’t use anything well. Not even a textbook. Or at least I don’t. But I’ve never been able to develop that, because I’ve never had more than one opportunity.

I use the computer in homeschooling.

I send the boys their syllabi. They send me the answers to their questions. I have E look up SAT vocab online and use it as his vocab lessons. E and M both use the internet for history timelines and research projects. I am slowly using more computer. M does his essay writing for his blog. He is allowed to pick the topic but must write a certain number of paragraphs. E uses his for research. He’s having to write his first research paper for me over chemistry; he’ll get credit in science as well.

But if I didn’t know computers, I wouldn’t be able to work with them on computers. So I do think it’s a big help. But perhaps more teachers are literate than Zuckerman thinks.

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