Computers v. Teachers and Reinforcing Reading Strategies

All around the country everyone is jumping on the bandwagon of using their dwindling budget money on purchasing software programs that claim to solve their struggling readers’ challenges.  Current research has failed to support that placing students on computers for remediation in reading works.  

The question to ponder is:  Are some students improving using software remediation because they are told they have to remain on the computer for long periods of time?  Maybe it’s not really the software program but the fact that they are reading more for longer periods of time on levels they can actually access.  However, that is extremely difficult to tease out.  Regardless, if they are improving and are motivated, then the goal has been met.  Yet what about the students who have to remain in that remediation program year after year because they fail the state test annually?   Are we not doing them a disservice?  RTI (Response to Intervention) suggests that interventions occur for a designated period of time and tracked to indicate if progress is being made.  The latest research suggests if a student is not responding to the intervention within two to three weeks, then it is not working and the case needs to be analyzed again.  Educators always need to think and ask:  Is this what is best for this student? 

A suggestion to consider:  a blended learning environment may be the answer.  Computers are a tool for education and society so a balance in how instruction is delivered needs to be kept in mind.  Learning is a social activity and dialogue and emphasizing processing (strategies) needs to be a large part of the equation, along with utilizing these strategies across the content and day.  Why?  Dialogue, socialization, and modeling, promotes growth in moral reasoning, self-regulation, critical and reflective thinking.   

And isn’t that the purpose of public education?   In a democratic society, the purpose of education is to encourage independent, life-long learners, critical thinkers and problem solvers, who are globally aware and technologically prepared, and to perpetuate democracy in order to encourage civic engagement.



Sources:   (Ranking of what effects student achievement)


Richard Allington, author of numerous articles


Peter Johnston, Opening Minds, 2012

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