Why Have Them at the Elementary School Level?
Computer Labs Make the Best Use of Office Suite Software
and Complement Classroom Use
The One Computer classroom.
There has been much said lately about how to teach and integrate technology
in a one - or few - computer classroom. However, little is said about ways to make
effective use of a computer lab for integrating technology. Suite software
such as Microsoft Office 97 (or 98 for Macintosh)
can support lab projects which are efficient and fun
and go beyond what is possible in a classroom with only a few computers.
The Staffed Computer Lab.
Well managed computer labs can help students use today's technology
to pull and stretch core curriculum
topics beyond the usual research papers, worksheets and homework. Computer labs
can be more than drill, keyboarding and word processing. If there is a knowledgable
technologist staffed in the lab who plans with the teachers, then a product such
as Microsoft office 97, or any suit software containing word processing, spreadsheet,
database and multimedia authoring programs, can give elementary students quite
a bit of creative learning.
Lab Technicians Must Bring the Vision. So,
how to bring classroom level creativity to fruition? The lab technician must
design technology projects with teachers
which publish student work in a variety of ways
or document a learning process. It is impossible to do this without the joint
planning process of lab technician and teacher.
Characteristics of good projects. Lab projects should
have the following characteristics:
- Lab projects should utilize [require!] students' creative processes. This excludes
word processing that is merely type and print, except at the most introductory levels.
- Lab projects should emphasize or teach core curriculum topics such as
math, science, language arts and social studies while also addressing technology objectives.
Students see computers at home as game machines with some educational application.
At school, students need to learn that computers are most commonly used in our society
as tools. In school, computers are tools of learning.
- Each lab project should teach new methods (i.e. new technology) for expression
or documentation. There is way too much in computer technology for any
single program or technique to become stale. Build, but don't repeat!