By James D. Torr
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Students enter answers (individually or as a group) via palm-held input devices, and the technology collects, stores, and displays histograms (bar graphs of how many students preferred each problem solution) of the class responses. This kind of tool can provide useful feedback to students and the teacher on how well the students understand the concepts being covered and whether they can apply them in novel contexts. Like other technologies, however, Classtalk does not guarantee effective learning.
Software developers often claim that computer use in classrooms gives teachers more opportunities to be involved with their students on an individual basis, but direct teacher involvement can be better achieved by reducing class sizes rather than by putting children in front of computers. Smaller class sizes have a positive impact on children’s academic performance. This is especially true of young children. The 1984–1990 Student/Teacher Achievement Ratio (STAR) Project study out of Tennessee provides striking evidence.
Contrary to some expectations, low-income parents are as likely to call the answering AI Computers & Education INT 2/4/03 7:36 AM Page 33 Computer-Assisted Education Can Enhance Learning 33 machines as are parents of higher socioeconomic status. The Internet can also help link parents with their children’s schools. School calendars, assignments, and other types of information can be posted on a school’s Internet site. School sites can also be used to inform the community of what a school is doing and how they can help.