Saturday, September 4, 2010

Lesson 11: The Computer as the Teacher’s Tool

             In the previous lesson, we saw how the computer can act as a tutor, particularly along a behaviorist and cognitive approach to learning. But we also saw how certain computer software programs have been developed to foster higher thinking skills and creativity.

            In this lesson, we shall again look at the computer, but this time from another perspective, the computer as the teacher’s handy-tool. It can in fact support the constructivist and social constructivist paradigms of constructivist learning.

            Constructivist was introduced by Piaget (1981) and Bruner (1990). They gave stress to knowledge discovery of new meaning/concepts/principles in the learning process. Various strategies have been suggested to foster knowledge discovery, among these, is making students engaged in gathering unorganized information from which they can induce ideas and principles. Students are also asked to apply discovered knowledge to new situations, a process for making their knowledge applicable to real life situations.

            While knowledge is constructed by the individual learner in constructivism, knowledge can also be socially constructed. Social constructivism. This is an effort to show that the construction of knowledge is governed by social, historical and cultural contexts. In effect, this is to ay that the learner who interprets knowledge has a predetermined point of view according to the social perspectives of the community or society he lives in.

            The psychologist Vygotsky stressed that learning is affected by social influences. He therefore suggested the interactive process in learning. The more capable adult (teacher or parent) or classmate can aid or complement what the learner sees in a given class project. In addition, Dewey sees language as a medium for social coordination and adaptation. For Dewey human learning is really human languaging that occurs when students socially share, build and agree upon meanings and knowledge.

Learning Framework


Social Constructivism


Knowledge is constructed by the individual.

Knowledge is constructed within a social context.

Definition of Learning

Students build their own learning.

Students build knowledge influenced by the social context.

Learning Strategies

Gather unorganized information to create new concept/principle

Exchange and share from ideas, stimulates thinking.

General Orientation

Personal discovery of knowledge.

Students discuss and discover meanings



 Two alternative job offers option 1-8 hrs/day for 6days/week

Option 2-9 hrs/day for 5 days/week


The Computer’s Capabilities

            Given its present-day speed, flexibility and sophistication, the computer can provide access to information, foster creative social knowledge building, and enhance the communication of the achieved project package. Without the computer, today’s learners may still be assuming the tedious task of low-level information gathering, building and new knew knowledge packaging. But this is not so, since the modern computer can help teacher-and-students to focus on more high level cognitive tasks.
            Based on the two learning theories, the teacher can employ the computer as a/an:

·         As an information tool
·         A communication tool
·         A constructive tool
·         As co-constructive tool
·         A situating tool

Informative tool

           The computer can provide vast amounts of information in various forms, such as text, graphics, sound and video. Even multimedia encyclopedias are today available on the internet.
            The internet itself provides and enormous database from which user can access global information resources that includes the latest news, weather forecasts, airline schedule, sports development, entertainment news and features, as well as educational information directly useful to learners. The internet on education can be sourced for kinds of educational resources on the internet.
            Along the constructivist point of view, it is not enough for learners to download relevant information using the computer as an information tool. Students can use gathered information for composition or presentation projects as may be assigned by the teacher. Given the fact that the internet can serve as a channel for global communication, the computer can very well be the key tool for video teleconferencing sessions.

Constructive Tool 

            The computer itself can be used for manipulating information, visualizing one’s understanding and building new knowledge. The Microsoft Word computer program itself is a desktop publishing software that allows uses to organize and present their ideas in attractive formats.

Co-constructive Tools 

           Students can use constructive tools to work cooperatively and construct a shared understanding of new knowledge. On ways of co-constructive is the use of the electronic whiteboard where students may post notices to a shared document/whiteboard. Students may also co-edit the same document from their homes.
            The Computer-Supported International Learning Environments (CSILE) is an example of an integrated environment developed by the Ontario Institute for studied in Education. Within CSILE, students can enter their ideas in notes and respond to each other’s ideas. Manifest in the student-generated database are higher level thinking processes-explaining, problem solving/finding, expertise and development, literacy improvement.

Situating Tool

          By means of virtual reality (RS) extension systems, the computer can create 3-D images on display to give the user the feeling that are situated in a virtual environment. A flight simulation program is an example of situating tool which places the user in a simulated flying environment.
            Multi-User domains or Dungeons (MUDs) MUD Object Oriented (MOOs), and Multi-User Shared hallucination (MUSHs) are example of situating systems MUDs and MOOs are text-based virtual reality environments on the Internet. When users log on to a MOO environment, they may interact with the virtual reality (such as by writing on a notice board) through simple text based commands. A school-to-school or classroom-to-classroom environment is possible whereby the user can choose to talk around the campus, talk with other users who are logged to the same site.
            To caution users, the computer as a situating tool is news and still undergoing further research and development.

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