Lincoln Peters wrote:
Dear Lincoln,On Wednesday 28 September 2005 08:27 am, michael dean wrote:well, in lieu of 35 computers in the art/science room, I went out and bought 10 lbs of newsprint 3ft X 4ft in dimension and some charcoal sticks. To paint on the computer screen is a severe limitation to human _expression_, does not allow studies in the round, i.e. sculture or throwing pots, and can't be proudly displayed on the walls of the school. Leaving Art aside, science experimentation is another area similar, in which actual hands on experience is to be preferred to anything digital. By the way, I am playing Devil's Advocate here, because to subsum teaching under e-learning, IMHO, is a mere human travesty.I'd have to agree, but my take is what's actually happening is the converse of what should be happening: e-learning should be subsumed under teaching,not the other way around. And in my experience, teachers (at least the ones I know) realize that e-learning should be subsumed under teaching, but the people who make all the big decisions don't get it. Thinking back to a biology class I took my senior year at high school, we had a computer in our classroom, just like every other class anywhere on campus (although some classrooms had more computers than others). We also had a very good biology teacher, who understood that e-learning should only be used to supplement normal teaching. As a result, we would often use the computer for research purposes (biology textbooks, like computer science books, become outdated at phenomenal speed), and occasionally for typing up reports (more often we'd use our home computers for typing and such things), but we'd still do actual lab work and go on field trips, as the teacher understood that a computer could never replace direct experience. (In anyone thinks that a machine CAN replace direct experience, they should read the short story "The Machine Stops" by E.M. Forester, available online at <http://brighton.ncsa.uiuc.edu/~prajlich/forster.html>. In fact, maybe this should be required reading for school administrators!) Of course, when you're dealing with topics that are difficult to teach through direct experience (such as microbiology), I don't think there's anything wrong with working various computer-related things into the cirriculum to compensate. And, of course, when properly applied, computers can make it much easier to convey almost any information, whether the students can learn it hands-on or not (I don't think anyone in that biology class will ever forget the 3-D animations I used in one project to illustrate in metaphor how various contraceptives work).
Interactive Computers in education has been around for 30 years now, changing its nomenclature, I suppose to protect the wicked, with mixed results on students. In the late 70 I conducted rigorous experiemntal studies of the effects of Plato Math and Reading and found that with the use of Plato in the classroom, and taking away from the teacher, students lost 6 months of progress they would have had without computers. The new e-learning "gurus", ever suspicious of the past, ignore strong research which indicates for all age cohorts, computers just ain't got it.