Students are tired of using computers in school

Discussion in 'Middle School / Junior High' started by Aussiegirl, May 13, 2016.

  1. Aussiegirl

    Aussiegirl Habitué

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    May 13, 2016

    I've been hearing so many of our kids complaining that they are tired of using computers. They ask for assignments on paper instead of always on the computer. Up to one third of our kids have unreliable internet connections or none at all at home. The most common complaints are:
    • The teacher gives the computers out, the assignment is online or in Google classroom. They do the work, hit enter and get a grade. They say they are not being taught.
    • We use computers in EVERY class. It is boring.
    Other teachers are starting to say they are hearing the same thing.
    1. Is this happening where you are?
    2. Is it high school or middle school?
    3. What socioeconomic area do most of your students come from?
    4. Are you rural or urban?
    Just curious to see if this is a trend at all.
     
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  3. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    May 13, 2016

    I know many students who do not like to learn using computers. Our district went to on-line textbooks and it is awful, especially since the district doesn't provide computers for the kids.
     
  4. Aussiegirl

    Aussiegirl Habitué

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    May 13, 2016

    On-line textbooks are an issue with us too. A really strong, stable connection is needed for it to be a viable alternative to a print book. Many of us don't have that where we are - a rural district in the Shenandoah Valley - because we live in wooded hilly/ mountainous areas or in remote areas not served by cable or DSL. Our district did supply some CD versions of the book, but many teachers seem to be printing out work from the books and handing that out.
     
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  5. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    May 13, 2016

    It sounds like this complaint is mostly about not wanting to be responsible for their own learning. Even when the work is on paper, if you turn the classroom around and make students responsible for learning, they will complain that teachers aren't 'teaching'. They want to be spoon-fed the information. This is not a technology issue. This is a lack of responsibility issue. (Though there is an extreme that some teachers go, where they simply plop a textbook in front of students and expect them to learn on their own. This is not okay either in textbook or digital format.)

    A computer is just a tool for learning. It still requires work, and all novelty wears off with time. Many students are disappointed because they think computers mean they don't have to work as hard or learning will somehow become easier. Nope, the same expectations still apply and learning is still going to be hard work. This complaint in another school without computers would sound like: 'We use textbooks in EVERY class. It is boring.' Students are used to having technology only for entertainment purposes, and enjoying the new-ness of tech.

    At our school, students have gone through that phase and gotten over it already. They now realize that a computer is just another tool to demonstrate their learning. They're neither enamored by its novelty, nor complaining about it's lack of entertainment value. It's like bringing a paper and pencil or a textbook to school each day.

    Don't expect computers to innately provide engagement on the basis of it being a technology. What's important is what you do with it. With computers, you can reduce the amount of paper you use and go paperless, which eliminates you carrying around huge stacks, killing trees, and students get near immediate digital feedback which they can check at any time. A computer allows easy access to information that would normally require a trip to the library (but with that access, you need to explicitly teach how to evaluate sources). Computers can dynamically simulate real phenomenon in a way that is hard to visualize in a paper based textbook or with a demonstration. It allows access to different modes of understanding. Most online textbooks provide their information in text based format, but also generally include more pictures, links to videos or audio files, and programs/simulations that can be used to visually, aurally, and kinesthetically engage the material, in addition to links that students can use to find more information. In addition, they all fit onto one device so students aren't carrying 7 books around all day. Those who have separated families don't need two copies of textbooks to bring home to each family. The textbook itself never gets damaged, and often allow teachers to edit and change content as they wish.

    Computers take student learning outside the classroom by allowing students to discuss, converse, or share their learning to a wider audience, for instance working on a citizen science project to help provide data for real scientists, or getting an online pen-pal that they can actually see visually and speak to in real time, or creating a webpage that is out there on the web that can be accessed by anyone.

    I sound like a tech-evangelizer, I know, but I always temper my enthusiasm for technology with the statement: sometimes the best technology to teach a lesson is no technology at all. Tech should only be one piece of your repertoire of strategies when teaching. Include text, hands-on investigations, art projects, etc. that take students away from the screen. (After all, they're going to see enough of the screen when they graduate, as nearly all jobs will require some amount of technical comfort.)
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2016
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  6. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    May 13, 2016

    Not just that, navigating to different areas is difficult. You can't see the entire page at a time, etc. It is just cumbersome.
     
  7. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    May 13, 2016

    It depends. If it is all on-line learning and no teacher interaction, I can see how kids might find that boring. What is the purpose of the teacher other than a person who hands out computers. It could be true that the teacher isn't teaching even though they are learning through the tool.

    If a teacher had the students read the chapter and do worksheets with no interaction every single day, I could see people saying that that teacher isn't teaching. If the computer is creating the equivalent environment, how is that any different than a teacher that assigns in-class reading and worksheet work every day with no other interaction?

    I guess the question is, what is really going on in class?

    At least with paper, people move (more than their fingers). To continually stare at a screen to do everything doesn't give the brain a change. It gets boring.
     
  8. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    May 13, 2016

    Agreed. I did amend my original post to state that sometimes teachers take self-learning too far, simply because they want to be lazy. But this can be done with paper or computers.

    It can get boring. But that's easily remedied with breaks. Again: a student shouldn't be using a computer the entire class period. It should be one small part of a diverse and engaging lesson that hits multiple modalities, including allowing students to move and discuss with each other.

    A lot of the complaints I'm hearing are about bad teaching. Not really the fault of the technology.
     
  9. Mshope2012

    Mshope2012 Companion

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    Aug 28, 2016

    They should come to my school if they are bored with computers, because we don't have any to use in the classroom. I love technology, but our school's tech is a mess. Our wi-fi is weak and in and out. If we want to use computers, we have to try to sign up for a lab and they are never available for all your classes. So, if I have five language arts classes, I might find a lab for four. What do I do with the other one? Our kids love to use computers because many don't have them at home.

    I agree with the previous poster that ONLY using the computers is bad teaching. Break it up, do a computer activity, then a class discussion, etc. I would love to have the chance to have a class set of laptops. I only have my teacher laptop and it is pretty slow.
     
  10. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Aug 28, 2016

    Of course they are bored - nothing is getting blown up, it lacks music, and it is "work", just like that thing they will do after HS. I smile and tell them welcome to the real world. I can act and be highly entertaining, but I bet their first boss won't be.
     
  11. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Aug 29, 2016

    I don't really think that they are bored because lack of excitement in the lessons. I think they get bored because most often because the lessons themselves don't engage them intellectually. They are too high, to low, or just not connected to information that they know. If you can't connect what you are teaching to things students know about a subject or another subject, most will be lost and bored. Many lessons aren't designed to get students to think at the right level for the students.
     

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