Technology in Different Settings:
How Many Computers Do You Have?
Multiple-computer classrooms are becoming more commonplace. However, many teachers still have only one computer in their classroom or they have no computers in the classroom but have access to a computer. Regardless of your classroom setting, it is very important that students see technology as a tool for learning, not as an add-on separate from the curriculum. This section provides strategies and ideas for effectively infusing technology into constructivist classrooms regardless of the technology setting.
Cooperative learning groups are often important components of constructivist learning environments and help facilitate the use of technology in any computer setting. It is very important to set up cooperative learning groups so that students' time spent on task is most effective. Research shows that one way to do this is to set up groups using an expert-novice peer-coaching model. A model for setting up cooperative groups in a four-computer classroom is illustrated in the following vignette.
Afternoons in Mr. Thomas's classroom are dedicated to project time. During
project time the four computers in the classroom become part of four centers: a
research center, a scanning and digital art center, a data collection and analysis
center, and a presentation station. Rather than teach each of his students how
to use all of these stations effectively, Mr. Thomas has decided to use a peer-
coaching model. He divides his class into four teams and trains each team to
be experts for one of the stations. Then he restructures the groups so that each
new group now has at least one expert for each of the stations. Now as the
groups rotate through the centers working on projects, students mentor each
other at each of the centers, assuming the role of expert or novice depending on
Centers are a wonderful way to maximize use of computers in the one- or multiplecomputer classroom. The following vignette illustrates how one teacher used centers in her one-computer classroom.
The students in Ms. Collins's sixth grade class have been working together on a
unit focusing on environmental issues. The class is working in six teams of four
students each. Every team has chosen a different environmental issue on which