08 March 2011

Computers in a classroom - distracting or helpful?

In the last few years, more and more learners bring their computers into a classroom and use them during a class, seminar etc. I found it peculiar delivering information skills sessions to such classes: the dynamic of interaction there seem to be different, not so straightforward comparing to a traditional classroom.

Yesterday I found myself - for the first time - in the role of a learner who had a computer with unlimited internet access in front of me. The most of the time I followed presentations quickly switching for Google to look up the mentioned topics and notions which I found interesting or confusing. I saved linked into Delicious to read some of the discovered content later on. When the presentation seemed to be going too slowly and during shored breaks between them I checked my email, but eventually felt that it was not helpful to deal with my Inbox right then.

As many other things, personal computers and the internet in a classroom has positive and challenging aspects. Ability to create my own flow of engaging with the classroom delivery and material, to enrich it by parallel searching for supplementary content was very helpful. Without a strong determination to learn in that classroom, however, I could easily be distracted with facebooking or online chatting. Hence, it seems to me, a tutor should decide at what extend computers are admissible to the classroom (I am not talking about computer-based learning in this case): not every learner or group has sufficient interest in learning to cope with temptations of socialising online; at least in the FE sector. Tutor should know the group to make such a decision.

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