Disruption Markets and Computer-Based Learning

Chapter 4 of Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the World discusses the disruptions that are currently taking place within schools. The first stage in the transition from “teacher-delivered” to “software-delivered” instruction is computer-based learning which is “methodically gaining ground as students, educators, and families find it to be better than the alternative-having nothing at all” (pg.90-91).

Disruption markets are developing in many significant areas of education: Advanced Placement classes because “there is an inadequate demand and resources to hire more AP teachers,” smaller schools who may otherwise have to cut classes because they may not be able to hire “highly qualified” teachers for every subject, urban secondary schools, especially in low-income areas because they may “struggle to find highly qualified teacher who are committed to working in such a challenging environments,” and homebound or home-schooled students may also be a great market for computer-based learning to increase depth of learning and subject range, as well as provide alternatives for students who need to make up credits (pg. 92-94). The modularity and flexibility of computer-based learning would allow students to experience a customized educational experience where they do not have to waste time on concepts they have already learned.

This chapter was particularly relevant for me as pre-service high school English teacher because according to the data projections, “by 2019, about 50 percent of high school courses will be delivered online” (p. 99). I understand that online courses provide convenience, accessibility, greater flexibility as well as an economic advantage, but I can’t help feeling that this “advancement” is not wholly a positive one. Sure, I want there to remain a demand for teachers, because that means employment, but there is a human quality about learning from and beside others that will be lost to the ease and access of computer-based learning. While access to information may increase, so will isolation. And there is something to be said about mentorship as a part of teaching that I feel will be lost with such a technology-based approach to instruction. Speaking as one who has taken many online and mixed-online courses, I feel less engaged and a bit disconnected from the material when I am not interacting with the Professor or my peers. I wonder about the effect this instructional transition will have on the social and communication skills as well as the personal and moral development of our students.

I completed my reading for this week while on a red-eye flight to Michigan for a dear friend’s wedding. I had not previously explored the different viewing options available as part of the KindleReader, but did mid-flight. While reading in the middle of the night, I definitely preferred the color mode, black! The white background was harsh on my tired eyes whereas the black was not as bright or disruptive for the sleepy travelers beside me. From now on, I think I will read from either the black or the sepia mode because those modes do not seem to bother my eyes as quickly—I tend to get headaches from reading from a screen for too long.

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Computer-based Learning and Student-centric Technologies

Our reading this week focused on why schools do not utilize computers when computers could so easily enrich the learning experience of every student. Over the 20-30 years, schools have spent upwards of $60 billon in equipping classrooms with computers and yet, “despite these investments, students report using the computers sparsely in their classrooms” (p. 81). Christensen suggests that computers should be utilized as more of a primary instructional mechanism to ensure that learning is customized to students’ varying types of intelligences while allowing the teacher to give more focused attention to each student (p. 73). As a pre-service teacher, it is important to understand and utilize the powerful software and hardware that is available in order to “transform prevailing instructional practices” (p.82). While high school students do use computers more often than elementary students, high schoolers are limited to word-processing programs and the internet for research, hardly experiencing computers as an instructional tool. We are cramming computers into classroom, but not allowing computers to modernize our traditional instructional practices. According to Christensen, we as teachers need to use computers to transform our teaching, to increase student-centered learning and project-based practices, to migrate to a student-centric classroom by allowing students to learn in ways that correspond with how their brains are wired (p. 83). Many existing pedagogies and instructional practices must be replaced by computers, not sustained by computers. Through employing the use of computer-based learning in a more disruptive mode, schools may realize the transformations of classrooms and student achievement.

I did not learn anything new while using the Kindle Reader this week, although I have switched to hitting the arrows on my keyboard to progress the pages rather than clicking the mouse on the forward arrow. This is much more convenient and I don’t have to look up from my reading, move my mouse, select the arrow and then re-orient myself on the next page—just a very small, but helpful way of navigating the text.
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