Potential Uses for Interactive Classroom Communications System Technology in Remedial, Tutorial and Special Education Programs (CCS)

by Michael S. Tomczyk, Better Education, Inc.

This paper briefly outlines potential uses and benefits for interactive classroom communication technology in the field of remedial education and tutoring. The technology to put a teacher "on-line" with every student in class exists today. It's a new genre of technology called the "Classroom Communication System" (CCS). The first CCS system called. . .

"Classtalk,"

is a computerized classroom management system that. . .

    1) enables every student to participate in every class exercise,

    2) instantly displays the results to the teacher, and

    3) electronically monitors, analyzes, grades, and archives the results.


The system

consists of a Teacher's Computer (Macintosh), interactive course ware, a Classtalk network, and student devices which can be shared by 2 to 3 students. The student devices can include palmtop or laptop computers, graphing calculators or other computing devices.
CCS technology was conceived and developed by

Better Education Inc.

an educational research organization located in Yorktown, Virginia. Research sponsored by the National Science Foundation has validated a wide variety of benefits including: full participation, increased interest in subject matter, better focus and preparation in class, and improved test scores. These benefits suggest important applications in remedial and tutorial education, particularly for at-risk, disadvantaged and disabled students.
Classtalk, the first fully-interactive Classroom Communication System (CCS), has the potential to provide important teaching and learning benefits in remedial, tutorial and special education. The process of applying CCS technology in these areas is just beginning. The following examples illustrate the potential and provide a basis for structuring specific programs:

    1. Using CCS Technology to Focus Students in Class - Many at-risk students do not do homework because of poor family support, difficult neighborhood environment or distractions such as TV. Many receive the bulk of their learning in the classroom. Often, they are not focused on learning due to influences outside the classroom. Setting and maintaining a high focus level is essential for students who have trouble doing homework or concentrating in class.
    Cognitive science research has shown that "active learning" exercises can improve learning and cognition. Classtalk represents a computerized delivery system for active learning. Every 10 or 15 minutes, students are asked to respond to a question or given a task based on the lesson. Knowing they will be asked to give a response encourages them to pay closer attention to the lesson material and keeps them focused on each lesson. Classtalk exercises may also help overcome short attention spans which seem to be a problem in the "MTV generation"--by delivering lessons in short segments, punctuated by interactive exercises that engage the entire class.


    2. Persuading At Risk Students to Participate - A student who is shy or embarrassed, or a member of an ostracized social group, can be afraid to give a wrong answer in front of class and thus does not participate fully in questions or class discussions.


Classtalk responses are entered electronically land anonymously, which encourages every student to participate, regardless of ethnic or social background, knowledge of material, confidence, or personality type. All students can participate in every exercise without risking peer ridicule. Every student provides input (including opinions) which offsets the tendency of extroverted students to dominate class verbal responses and discussions.
Students enjoy working with computers and calculators, which offers another incentive for participation. Using handheld or palmtop computing devices for learning exercises linked to curriculum goals capitalizes on the popularity of computers and video games, and applies this interest and familiarity to specific teaching and learning goals.

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