Journal Issue: Children and Computer Technology Volume 10 Number 2 Fall/Winter 2000
Schools today face ever-increasing demands in their attempts to ensure that students are well equipped to enter the workforce and navigate a complex world. Research indicates that computer technology can help support learning, and that it is especially useful in developing the higher-order skills of critical thinking, analysis, and scientific inquiry. But the mere presence of computers in the classroom does not ensure their effective use. Some computer applications have been shown to be more successful than others, and many factors influence how well even the most promising applications are implemented.
This article explores the various ways computer technology can be used to improve how and what children learn in the classroom. Several examples of computer-based applications are highlighted to illustrate ways technology can enhance how children learn by supporting four fundamental characteristics of learning: (1) active engagement, (2) participation in groups, (3) frequent interaction and feedback, and (4) connections to real-world contexts. Additional examples illustrate ways technology can expand what children learn by helping them to understand core concepts in subjects like math, science, and literacy. Research indicates, however, that the use of technology as an effective learning tool is more likely to take place when embedded in a broader education reform movement that includes improvements in teacher training, curriculum, student assessment, and a school's capacity for change. To help inform decisions about the future role of computers in the classroom, the authors conclude that further research is needed to identify the uses that most effectively support learning and the conditions required for successful implementation.