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em Tecnologia Instrucional
We live in a rapidly changing world. There is a need for education to become more relevant to that changing world. Technology is being used as a vehicle for the restructuring of businesses and now there is increased attention for restructuring the delivery of education. While concepts such as open learning environments with its collaborative, student centred learning are not new to education, they have not been sustainable in the past. Technology itself is an enabling mechanism and in itself not the prime reason for changing education.
The use of computers in education can have a positive impact on the learning which takes place in a classroom. It is not the technology itself, but the manner in which it is utilised that makes it a valuable or valueless activity. The teacher remains the most important factor in the learning equation by determining what transpires in the classroom. It follows that professional development of the classroom teacher is a critical need to ensure the effective use of the technology. Professional development of teachers in the integration of computers into the curriculum has been short of what is required, because it has not dealt enough with equipping teachers with a teaching and learning philosophy with which to base the use of computers in the curriculum.
Professional development of teachers at all three levels as discussed will be a massive task and an expensive one, but change towards the type of education required today will not happen without it. For most teachers professional development needs to start at the philosophical level and move down into the more 'nuts and bolts' level. It will take some time to achieve. Nevertheless there are signs that changes are happening in schools.
An observation is that writings about holistic learning experiences involving use of computers almost always deal with primary aged students. Given the structural differences between primary and secondary schools, this is probably not surprising. It does however indicate that the breadth of issues to be resolved for widespread change to occur involves much more than professional development of teachers alone.
On a more sober note, can we be absolutely sure of the value of using technology in classrooms ? When speaking of the long term outcomes of a laptop computer saturation program at Trinity Grammar School in Kew, Victoria, Howell poses the question:
· Does saturation usage of laptop computers across the curriculum actually change learning and thinking ?
Howell points to the following factors and unresolved questions as creating a real dilemma in pursuing their project:
· There are no sensitive, valid and reliable instruments available to measure the cognitive toolkits students possess or use.
· What sorts of changes to their thinking and learning should we attempt to measure ?
· How long will it take for such changes to become obvious and well established ? .....
Such is the lot of the pioneer. Yet they are questions of vital interest to all educators. We have all seen technologies offering promises of having real benefits to education which are abandoned in a relatively short space of time when the promises are not fulfilled.
Finally, those teachers who have been in a position to take up the challenge of changing their role to one of developing a cooperative learning environment, report that it is a positive change. At Batlow Technology School in New South Wales, Bridgland and Nanlohy report the following points:
· increased dedication of the students to their learning and increased production of end products .....
· marking loads increased ..... as students got more deeply engaged in their project work. .....
· they (teachers) were being met at the door of their classroom early in the morning by students waiting to start work .....
· at the end of the day teachers reported that some students were reluctant to leave. .....
· (parents) commented on the increased excitement and pressure to succeed that their children showed at home. .....
Despite the extra pressures that this can place on teachers, many would 'kill' to work in such an atmosphere. This in itself could provide the incentive for teachers to take up the challenge of incorporating educational computing and other technologies into their teaching.