The Computer

From Teaching Machine to Telecommunications
Part of the Innovations in Science Education and Technology book series (ISET, volume 11)


This chapter examined the use of the computer in the science classroom. By examining the purposes served by the computer (as presented by Tinker, 1987)—as an instrument to acquire information, to analyze data, to offer creative expression, and to communicate with others—an appropriate organizational pattern was available.

The most common applications of the computer in science teaching were its use for simulation and information retrieval applications. Simulation software, available in both commercial and teacher-created varieties, provided an excellent means of developing science process skills and higher order thinking skills as a part of the student’s interaction with the software. Microcomputer-based Laboratories, though well represented in the science teaching literature, were challenging endeavors during their early incarnation. While it is certain that students would benefit from their use of the MBL, the requirements for the teacher’s knowledge base were extreme; few teachers would be likely to use them due to the large amount of programming and hardware knowledge required.

The Internet and interactive video were among the most recent technology infusions into science teaching. Interactive multimedia provided a number of simulation and investigation experiences for students in the sciences, with the level of interactivity much higher than in previous types of simulations. p]The Internet,both as a source of information and as a communications medium, found its way into larger and larger numbers of classrooms during the 1990s. Several initiatives engaged students in interactive learning with other students located across states,nations,and continents.

Scientific literacy issues were clearly supported by the use of the computer in the classroom. In particular,software that allowed students the chance to analyze and interpret data as well as empowering ever-larger groups of students to engage in scientific investigations promoted the best ideas of contemporary scientific literacy.

Finally, the pattern of hardware-pedagogy-software presented itself though any number of articles supporting the use of computer technology in the science classroom. As the development of hardware and software accelerated and the availability of computers in the home and school expanded during the 1980s and 1990s,so too did the number of articles assisting teachers with the infusion of technology in the classroom. Nonetheless, the pattern of hardware-pedagogy-software dissemination remained intact.


Science Teaching Science Teacher Science Classroom Electronic Mail Interactive Video 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

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