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Information Technology in Support of Student-Centered


The traditional classroom

It may be observed that classrooms are usually arranged with neat columns
and rows of student chairs, while the teacher stands in front of the classroom or sits
behind his desk. This situation is necessitated by the need to maintain classroom
discipline, also to allow the teacher to control classroom activities through lecture
presentation and teacher-led discussions.
Noticeably, however, after spending so many minutes in lesson presentation
and class management, students can get restless and fidgety. Often enough, the
teacher has to also manage misbehavior in class as students start to talk among
themselves or simply stare away in lack of attention.
The SCL classroom
John Dewey has described traditional learning as a process in which the
teacher pours information to student learners, much like pouring water from a jug
into cups. This is based on the long accepted belief that the teacher must perform
his role of teaching so that learning can occur. This learning approach is generally
known as direct instruction, and it has worked well for obtaining many kinds of
learning outcomes.
The problem with the direct instruction approach to learning, however, is the
fact that the worlds societies have begun to change.
Generally, the new school classroom environment is characterized by student
individually or in groups:

Performing computer word processing for text or graph presentations.

Preparing power-point presentation
Searching for information on the internet
Brainstorming on ideas, problems and project plans
As needed, the teacher facilitating instruction, also giving individualized
instruction to serve individual needs.

Observably, there is a departure from traditional worksheet, read-and-answer,

drill-and-practice activities.

Lesson 13
Cooperative Learning with the Computer

Singapore has set the global pace for student-centered learning with a
2:1 (2 pupils with 1 computer) ratio in its masterplan for IT in Education.
The creativity of the teacher will have to respond to the situation, and
so cooperative learning will likely be the answer to the implementation of IT
supported learning in our schools.

Defining cooperative learning

Cooperative or collaborative learning is learning by small groups of
students who work together in a common learning task. It is often also called
group learning but to be truly cooperative learning, 5 elements are needed:

A common goal
Individual accountability
Social skills

Therefore not every group work is cooperative learning since students

working on their work sheets physically sat around a table may be working
together without this features of cooperative learning.
From several studies made on cooperative learning, it is manifested that
cooperative learning in its true sense is advantageous since it:

Encourages active learning, while motivating students

Increases academic performance
Promotes literacy and language skills
Improves teacher effectiveness

In addition, there are studies which shows that cooperative learning

enhances personal and social development among students of all ages, while
enhancing self-esteem and improving social relationship between racially
and culturally different students.

Cooperative Learning and The Computer

Researchers have made studies on their learning interaction between
the students and the computer. The studies have great value since it has
been a long standing fear that the computer may foster student learning in
isolation that hinders the development of the students social skills.
Now this mythical fear has been contradicted by the studies which
show that when students work with the computers in groups, they cluster
and interact with each other for advice and mutual help. And given the
option to work individually or in a group, the students generally wish to work
together in computer-based and non-computer-based activities.
Therefore researchers agree that the computer is a fairly natural
learning vehicle for cooperative (at times called promotive) learning.

Components of cooperative learning

Educators are still wary about the computers role in cooperative
learning. Thus they pose the position that the use of computers do not
automatically result in cooperative learning. There therefore assign the
teacher several tasks in order to assure collaborative learning. These are:

Assigning students to mixed-ability teams

Establishing positive interdependence
Teaching cooperative social skills
Insuring individual accountability, and
Helping groups process information

These are in addition to assigning a common work goal in each

member of the group will realize that their group will not succeed unless
everyone contributes to the group success. It is also important for the
teacher limits learning group clusters (six is the ideal number in a group) so
that there can be closer involvement in thinking and learning.