Implementing Technology in a Fifth Grade Classroom: School and Home Perspectives

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Virginia Tech

This descriptive case study investigated the effects of widespread availability of information technology in a fifth grade classroom using a constructivist paradigm. The same computer configuration that students used in the classroom was provided for them at home, along with an Internet dial-up connection. The technology was used as an adjunct to the classroom and was utilized when appropriate. In addition to general classroom observations, four students were chosen for closer study. Their progress was monitored throughout the year with respect to three emerging themes related to information technology use: self-directed learning, collaboration, and social interaction.

The results of this study were organized into individual student stories with each theme explored. The results showed that the students used the available technology both in the classroom and at home. There was a natural fit between the requirements of the fifth grade class and the available tools. Students chose to utilize the available technology and derived new ways of doing so, particularly at home where they were totally self-directed. For the students in this study, learning became a two-way process. Skills students developed on their own were shared with their teachers and other classmates.

Collaboration, constructivism, social interaction, self-directed learning, educational technology, classroom practice