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Excerpt from a thematic paper,

Theoretical Support for Making Computer-Enabled Learning Environments the Core of School Curricula


By Carol Caldwell-Edmonds        

January 29, 2002     

Vermont College Graduate Program

My research focuses on computer-enabled learning.  By “computer-enabled learning" I mean several things.  First, I mean learning about subjects and processes emerging from the development of computer technology, for example, the science of complexity, simulations and robotics.  Studying these subjects requires learning about programming; the reasons for teaching computer programming in the public schools form a secondary theme throughout the document.  Computer-enabled learning also includes education made possible via the Internet and other computer-based multimedia venues.  Other venues include MIDI based programs for composing music, programs from the film industry and web design for creating animations and works of visual art, and the more familiar presentation applications used in schools and businesses. 

Note that computer-enabled learning does not mean learning how to use programs to do word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, and drill and practice exercises, all of which can and have been done for years without computers.  Implied in the term “computer-enabled” is a need for a deeper understanding about computer science than is required for mastering a certain use for a piece of software. However, I am not suggesting the subject area of computer science should constitute the core of a curriculum. 

My reference to “the core of school curricula” means I suggest a fundamental shift, not only from teaching methods determined by print technology, but also from a basic core curriculum of separate subjects like reading, writing, math, science and social studies (also largely the result of the practical limitations of the printed page) to computer-based learning environments which integrate different disciplines through solving problems or creating something.  I do not suggest a superficial switch to a “paper-free school”, nor do I suggest eliminating books.  Rather, I advocate the use of a fluid and interconnected technology to facilitate a fluid and integrated core curriculum for K-12 education. I present theoretical support for a paradigm shift from school curricula as plans for segmented stages of learning to schools as microworlds for integrated learning, for I believe that learning environments in schools can be unified by the same computer technology that is unifying other institutions in society.