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Volume 10, Number 5
September/October 1994

Six Myths (and Five Promising Truths) About the Uses of Educational Technology

Though their potential benefits are great, computers alone can't reform education or change the way students learn

 

Computer technology is fast becoming an almost universal presence in education. Ninety-eight percent of U.S. schools now have at least some computers. The ratio of computers to students is increasing across the country, and continued growth is expected in purchases of hardware, software, and related equipment such as videodisk players and CD-ROM technology.

The push to get more and more computers into schools has been fueled in part by the belief that their mere presence will make good things happen (and by aggressive marketing by hardware and software manufacturers). A variety of studies, however, tell us that computers in themselves do not automatically change the nature of teaching and learning; rather, it is the way teachers integrate computers into classrooms, the content of technology-aided lessons, and the quality of the software programs selected that determine whether and how computers in schools really benefit students.

Computers have proved valuable in supporting inquiry-based science teaching, inclusion of students with disabilities in regular classes, interdistrict collaboration, distance learning, and the dissemination of professional development materials. At the same time, certain myths about the magic of technology persist.

This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.

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For Further Information

For Further Information

A. Ahmed. "Learning to Program and Its Transference to Students' Cognition." Available from the ERIC Clearinghouse (ED352261, 1992).

R. Anderson (ed.). Computers in American Schools: 1992: An Overview. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Department of Sociology, 1993.

L. Cuban. "Neoprogressive Visions and Organizational Realities." In Visions for the Use of Computers in Classroom Instruction: Symposium and Response. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Educational Review Reprint.

Educational Technology Center, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Nichols House, Appian Way, Cambridge, MA 02138.

Educational Telecommunications: The State-by-State Analysis. Hezel Associates, 1201 E. Fayette St., Syracuse, NY 13210.

C. Martin and E. Muchie-Beyma (eds.). In Search of Gender Free Paradigms for Computer Science Education. International Society for Technology in Education, 1787 Agate St., Eugene, OR 97403.

MCET (and the Mass LearnPike Satellite Network), 38 Sidney St., Cambridge, MA 02139.

TEAMS Distance Learning, Los Angeles County Office of Education, 9300 Imperial Highway, Room 250, Downey, CA 90242.

TERC, 2067 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02140.

R. Tierney et al. Computer Acquisition: A Longitudinal Study of the Influence of High Computer Access on Students' Thinking, Learning and Interactions. Cupertino, CA: Apple Classrooms of Tomorrow, Report #16.