Currents: An E-Journal
Andrea R. Gooden.  Computers in the Classroom.  Ed. Fred Silverman.  San Francisco: Jossey Bass and Apple Press, 1996. 
Currents in Electronic Literacy  Spring 2000(3), 

  1. Based on the assumption that effective use of school computers requires “models of good teaching,” Computers in the Classroom offers six case studies of schools which integrated computers with updated curriculum to the benefit of students and local communities.  Each of these models exemplify the book’s call for greater teacher involvement and teacher collaboration (or "classroom practitioners,” as the book calls them) rather than reliance upon “university-based scientists and educational specialists” (x).  All six models also tend to share other traits: high unemployment, a significant minority enrollment, and substandard academic scores.  All were also recipients of Apple Computer Education Grants in the early 1990’s.  While author Andrea Gooden suggests her audience is anyone interested in educational change facilitated by computers, she obviously targets educators and school administrators with a clear claim that if dynamic and successful curriculum change can be instituted by computer novices in “some of the most underserved and neediest American communities," such change can be duplicated almost anywhere (xv).
  2. The six models include an all-male high school in Newark, New Jersey which integrated an interdisciplinary social studies course on local issues with use of computers to develop a desktop published local magazine; a Louisiana elementary school which used computers to create multimedia presentations and a CD-ROM encyclopedia of local folklore; an inner city Philadelphia high school that utilized online computer databases to facilitate analysis of an in-class greenhouse; a rural California high school which infused technology into all curriculum areas in order to enhance students' job skills and prospects in an isolated San Joaquin Valley region; a Harlem elementary school which used computers to study weather phenomena and to communicate with other schools throughout the world doing the same; and a Native American reservation school in South Dakota where students created computer-based projects exploring their own legends and myths.
  3. One of more impressive models in the book is that of the Dos Palos High School, which transformed itself into a career-education center for the local community and a career-training school for its students in order to address a high local unemployment rate.  The school's library became a home for community college satellite extension courses, its drafting shop integrated computers  into its print and design courses, and its welding and woodshop facility began using computers in inventory control, farm management, and computer-aided design (CAD) classes.  In the initial years following the infusion of computers into the curriculum at Dos Palos, academic performance improved significantly, vocational training improved, and the number of college-bound students rose substantially.
  4. In sum, Computers in the Classroom offers dynamic models for using computers to enhance education and provides a convincing argument for doing so.  That model primarily emphasizes teacher collaboration and an interdisciplinary approach to studies which asks students to become problem solvers and critical thinkers rather than just receptacles of imparted knowledge.  In this model, the computer works as a tool to facilitate an educational environment in which students likewise collaborate, collect and create knowledge, and produce publications and projects stemming from a two-way interaction with the community.  The community serves as both a source of local knowledge and a benefactor of the projects created at the school.  Teachers are also important; while the educators involved in these examples initially had limited computer experience, Gooden emphasizes that they were creative and committed. Finally, while the use of computers in each of the six models was generally limited to email communications, desktop publishing, and creation of HyperCard Stacks (amazing for their time but now, more than five years later, quite outdated), the models themselves are not outdated; rather, they could only be enhanced with more modern computers.
  5. Roger Rouland
    The University of Texas at Austin
Back to Currents: An E-Journal