Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

 

"Playing with computers" : the hidden impact of the computer in a school Public Deposited

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https://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/ft848t081

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  • The topic of this study is the cultural impact of the computer in a school. "Impact" is 'defined as the cultural consequences of intended and unintended learning that occur when computers are used in the school. The major theoretical orientations of the work include the concepts of manifest and latent functions, intended and unintended learning in the process of enculturation. The anthropological approach of the study is microethnography. Participant observation in a middle school over a period of six months is the primary data gathering technique. The school has a library/media center that houses a computer area to which all students in the school have scheduled access. The computer education program is well-developed and permeates many sectors of the instructional program. Twenty Commodore PET computers are used for programming, word-processing, drill-and-practice, tutorial, simulation and games. During the course of the research an unanticipated finding emerged from the data. When students used the computers they consistently referred to what they were doing as "playing." Adults did not use the word "play" to describe how students used computers. The "playful learning" that takes place through using computers relates to the unintended learning in a process of enculturation. The manifest functions of placing computers in the schools are only minimally served. The desire of parents to have their children better prepared for the job market and the belief of teachers that students learn while using computers are two major intentions expressed by adults. Students incidentally learn that computers are important. The latent function of the computer is to provide students with opportunities for playful learning. The unintended learning that comes about through play has multiple consequences, some of them conflicting with the learning intended by adults in the school system. A "continuum of unintended learning" is offered to refine the interpretation of latent functions in the process of enculturation. The consequences of the latent functions and the effect of play on computers is examined and implications are suggested for educators.
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