In the 70’s and 80’s Computer-Based Training (CBT) was all the rage. Even in the 21st Century we are seeing a movement back toward CBT. The requirements of NCLB have administrators turning their heads to the computer as an answer to shoring up student basic skills. Study Island, Plato, and other software subscriptions provide solutions for school districts to use computers as a means to improve basic skills.
What do students who engage in CBT gain? Do they gain mastery? Do they gain appropriation? What do they remember from their experience with the CBT programs 1 year, 5 years, or 10 years later?
Is it possible to interact with a computer in such a way as to impact an individual at a later time on an inter-mental plane? If it is possible, what type of computer environment would invite that type of interaction? It is highly unlikely that a CBT program would provide the necessary interaction required.
Vygotsky believe that thought was really inner speech. Does interaction with a CBT program encourage inner speech? Does it inspire inner speech? Current trends in education appear to be impacting the ways that technology is again used in the classroom. Using computers to reinforce basic skills and drill/practice those same skills mostly certainly won’t bring the type of interactions that are needed. Computer can hold the potential to provide the necessary conditions for students to have interactions, hold conversations with other humans. Computers are tools for students to think with….for students to hold internal conversations. I am certainly using a computer to hold an inner conversation with myself. I am clarifying my thoughts and clarifying my ideas. I am making knowledge my own. Have I demonstrated mastery? Not yet. Have I appropriated the concepts? Yes. The computer and my internal dialogue will continue to assist me in fully gaining mastery and appropriation.
Computers are tools to think with, and a program as simple as a text editor provides the landscape to explore my thoughts, ideas, and knowledge. After all, you don’t know what you think until you try to write it down!
“People want to see a face.” ~Dewight Curry http://www.astc.org/pubs/dimensions/1997/nlstory.htm