3/26: Computer-based learning

Moderated by Maureen Downey

It seems everyone has a game plan on how to improve education, and today we explore several ideas. An outstanding DeKalb graduate points to more engaged students as the key to enhancing education. And I examine the growing sentiment that schools should step outside the box — or should I say step into the box — and consider the possibilities offered by computer-based or virtual learning.

What do you think?

6 comments Add your comment

Rick in Grayson

March 26th, 2012
3:25 pm

What difference does it make whether the “teacher” is in front of you? A video course can be done once (and corrected till it makes sense) and can be used for years! Teachers can be available by email/phone call if questions have to be answered. If many pupils have the same questions….quess what….the video can be updated to answer those questions. Videos should be no longer that 20 minutes for each topic. Allowing someone to have a break to think about what was just presented will lead to a better learning experience.

Video/computer learning would be great for math/science classes because the web allows teachers/web authors to present simulations that simply can’t be done in normal classrooms. Again, teachers would be available to answer questions on a “as needed” basis.

Slow, medium, and fast learners can now learn at their own “speed”.

One example: Ever watch math teachers plot points on a graph? Computer programs can be easy to use and allow many types of equations to be investigated quickly and the student can tinker with the equations to see how the graphs change. Try using GEOGEBRA (www.geogebra.org).


March 26th, 2012
1:48 pm

I am a 42 year old man who works full time and I take classes towards my bachelor’s degree. All of my classes are online at an accredited university. What I have to point out is that you have to be twice as motivated to do classes only online. You do not have the advantage of a teacher in front of you to ask questions as they come to you, you have to reach out in a blog. If you are self motivated and have good reading comprehension, then online classes are a great alternative, as long as you stick with a quality school. These types of classes are not going to be a fad, but the wave of the future, as more and more transitions to an online realm. What I like about these classes is that it allows total flexibility. I take the “class” when it is good for me, keeping in mind weekly deadlines. You have to cover the exact same material as those sitting in a classroom, so don’t think for a second that it will be easier. In many cases it’s harder because you have to figure out more on your own. You also have to take proctored exams on campus to prove you have actually covered the material, so don’t think you take tests at home with a book.

If you are self motivated, and have schedule issues, online is a great tool. But I do not think it’s for everyone. If you are just coming out of high school and didn’t do well, this is not the place for you. What I have found is that the majority of online learners are adults with work experience who are going back to advance a career. Most of those folks are in it to learn, not just get a grade, so they tend to be more motivated than others.

But I think online learning is going to push its way into classrooms more and more, until eventually there will be no classroom, just a terminal. So you need to get used to the process, and do it soon.


March 26th, 2012
12:10 pm

Like others have said I see computers simply as tools that have a place, but not some mystical holy grail that will solve all problems.

In business I have noticed that one of the biggest issues with entry level employees being able to move up are actually pretty basic. I am continually surprised at the number of adults of all races that cannot read at a satisfactory level. Oh many of them can struggle to get through a paragraph, but their comprehension is terrible. Also, basic math skills are severely lacking keep in mind I am not referring to advanced calculus, but something as simple as the understanding the difference between .100 and .010 inches. Also, a good friend left the business word to teach high school and he echoed the same thing that his biggest problem is high school kids that cannot read.

I don’t know how people get into high school much less graduate without these basic skills. Yes, computers might help with reading and mathematics, but there has to be some sort of accountability. Obviously the recent stories and events have shown the potential problems with standardized test, but without them how do you assure competency. Maybe we need to consider having testing administrated by outside organizations that have no motivation to cheat.

Hillbilly D

March 26th, 2012
11:23 am

Computer learning has its place but I have a feeling that this push towards it now is just the latest education fad. Reminds me of “the new math” that I experienced 45-50 years ago. These fads come and they go, unfortunately the kids only get to go through school once. If something doesn’t work, they can be paying the cost the rest of their lives, while the administrators move on to the next fad.


March 26th, 2012
10:38 am

Kids already can’t handle social situations or communicate face to face well due to digitalitis. Technology is a tool for the classroom – keep them in class!


March 26th, 2012
10:35 am

Unless it is only used as a SMALL part of the overall process, my answer is a DRAMATIC NO!