Having used computers extensively in my work for years, I became interested in examining how computers are being used in elementary classrooms today. I began to explore current literature regarding the use and benefits of computers in elementary school classrooms, and I found myself wondering whether computer integration can provide unique, meaningful learning experiences for students. I began to investigate this question via observation in classrooms and through surveys of and dialogue with the principal, technology specialist, and teachers at a K-5 elementary school. I collected data regarding the school's overall philosophy of computer integration in its classrooms, as well as information about how its computer system is set up. I interviewed the principal and technology specialist on their views of how computers can enhance student learning, and collected numerous examples of how teachers are integrating computers in their classroom and how they feel computers can promote meaningful learning. An analysis of these data led me to conclude that computer integration in the classroom can provide unique, meaningful learning experiences for students in several · ways. I found that computers have significant value in supporting and augmenting varied student interests, intelligences, and learning styles. Computers also seem very valuable in fostering cooperation and collaboration between students. Computers can provide individualized instruction for students and some software applications can offer immediate feedback. Computers appear to act as a "leveler," providing equal learning opportunities to all students regardless of need or ability level. Finally, the computer can also serve as a highly motivating learning tool. In summary, I learned that computers can enhance student learning in unique, meaningful ways, I learned that a strong school philosophy and commitment towards the use of technology can result in a successful program, and I gained knowledge of numerous ways in which to successfully integrate computer technology into my classroom.
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