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Discussion: Traffic Jam Applet tool
Topic: Computer Tools at PreK2
Related Item: http://mathforum.org/mathtools/tool/10/


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Subject:   RE: Computer Tools at PreK2
Author: Mathman
Date: Oct 4 2004
On Aug 26 2004, Doug wrote:

First of all,I'd like to comment on this remark:
> It depends how much you really want to read!

Person A drives a car for 30 years.  Person B reads about driving cars for 5 or
6 years.  Why should person A read about driving cars?  it would be better if
person B drove for 30 years. There is so much to read, and driving is a much
more enlightening experience.

>I would like to respond to the idea that computer tools are
> not appropriate. I have been doing and reviewing research on this,
> and engaging in projects in real classrooms, and believe that both
> research and the wisdom of expert practice are consistent: Computer
> tools are appropriate if used well, and, moreover, are *superior* to
> paper and even physical manipulatives in many cases.

I have been engaging in real learning [mathematics] in real classrooms for many
years and know that all tools are useful if used well, and when necessary.
There's always that "if".  I have worked with computers in just about all
aspects, including programming [in fact that is what sparked my interest] for
more than a quarter century, and am well aware of their potential.  However, I
also know the potential of what are sometimes now called "traditional" methods.
No doubt the computer visual animated images beat arc-lamp slide projections
hands down, and nobody wants to return to that.  It is just that there are some
areas where they are truly not necessary, and in fact can be a hindrance to
learning.  students collect large arrays ofimages, but have few basic skills
when the dust has settled.  It is not that they should be abandonned, but their
use should be sometimes deferred to a better time and place.


>Bad
> educational practice can be done with any medium. However, good
> practice is often better with (high-quality) computer tools.  Why?

You must first define "good practice".  My field of study is mathematics.  There
is much requiring a good deal of insight and reasoning in which cases the
computer can add no value whatsoever.  There are others where it is a decided
advantage.  Those who have learned principles of graphing have at the same time
learned to interpret those graphs. Like learning anything new, time and patience
and introspection have a high value.  There are times when the computer will
graph curves rapidly and effectively, and comparisons and analysis are enhanced.
However, it is not a given that the computer will be of advantage in the
beginning, any more than browsing the internet will make one wise.

David.

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