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Three Simple Ideas about Computers in the Curriculum

During my teaching days at the University of Oregon I taught in the Mathematics Department, the Computer Science Department, and the College of Education. The last 20 years or so of my career was in the College of Education where I taught courses about computers in education.

Currently I am associated with a group of approximately 35 University of Oregon faculty members who are concerned about what the UO and/or their particular departments are doing in terms of adequately preparing students for the effective use of computer technology.

At a recent College of Education faculty meeting, Randy Kamphaus, the Dean of the College of Education, presented a list of course and curriculum complaints from students. Not a single one mentioned computers or Information and Communications Technology (ICT).

My immediate response was that I could not believe these results. Perhaps this topic was mentioned only quite infrequently? This led me to wonder how I might convey my thoughts about ICT use in the curriculum in a manner that was appropriate to the College of Education, the entire university, and precollege education. Here are my thoughts.

ICT across the University Curriculum

First, here is a question I would like to have put to every student in the College of Education:

“Are the Education courses you are taking adequately and appropriately helping you to learn about making use of modern computer technology as an aid to representing and solving the problems and tasks being covered in the courses you are taking, and in making relevant use of what you are learning for your future as a professional in education?”

A slightly modified version of the question can be asked of every student in the university. If a student does not know enough about ICT to answer the question, or if the answer is no, this provides us with information to press for the following three actions at a departmental and university-wide level: 

  1. Have ICT prerequisites of some baseline knowledge and skills, along with required or optional coursework and other aids to help students gain the necessary ICT knowledge and skills they do not currently possess.
  2. Every faculty member should be responsible for integrating into their courses up-to-date content on roles of ICT in helping to represent and solve the problems and tasks that their courses are covering.
  3. Make use of computer-assisted teaching and learning when it will be beneficial to students. Keep in mind the rather mundane idea that student use of the Web to retrieve information and student use of a word processor for writing and desktop publication of papers are both included in a broad definition of computer-assisted instruction. And, of course, all distance education that makes use of ICT is included.

These three ideas apply to all courses in the university. The idea is to place responsibility both on the students and on the faculty. In these “modern” times, this is not much different from expecting all students to have basic knowledge and skills in reading, writing, math, and information retrieval in every course they take, and routinely expecting them to make appropriate use of and to continue to improve such knowledge and skills. 

Application to Precollege Education

At the precollege level we want all students to gain breath and depth of knowledge and skills that prepare them to be responsible adult citizens. We want them to have made a respectable level of progress toward being job and/or college ready. That is why there is so much emphasis on reading, writing, math, and information retrieval. These are considered to be fundamental basics of a modern education. It is now evident that ICT is thoroughly integrated into our world. I and a great many other people believe ICT is another basic of education, one closely related to and thoroughly intertwined with reading, writing, math, and information retrieval.

So, I strongly believe that my questions and recommendations for college faculty and their students apply equally well to precollege educators and their students. However, I want to make a slight change to the recommendations at the precollege level. Young children do not yet have sufficient knowledge about the various basics of education (including ICT) to judge whether their teachers are adequately prepared across these basics and are adequately integrating them into the day-to-day curriculum. It is a basic responsibility of these teachers to help their students learn the importance of reading writing, math, information retrieval, and ICT as fundamental basics of a modern education.

What You Can Do

If you are a teacher at any level or a parent helping your children to learn, assess yourself on the ideas presented in this blog. Then assess the quality of education the students you work with are obtaining from the point of view of the questions and issues I have raised. If you are not satisfied with the answers you obtain, do something about the situation.

References and Resources

Moursund, D. (2016). David Moursund (free) books. IAE-pedia. Retrieved 3/31/2016 from

Moursund, D. (3/1/2016). Information underload and overload IAE Blog. Retrieved 3/31/2016 from

Moursund, D. (1/23/2016). Learning problem-solving strategies by using games: A guide for educators and parents. IAE Blog. Retrieved 3/31/2016 from

Moursund, D. (2015). Brain science for educators and parents. Eugene, OR: Information Age Education. Web: PDF: Microsoft Word:

Moursund, D. (2015). Two brains are better than one. IAE-pedia. Retrieved 3/31/2016 from

Moursund, D. (12/30/2015). MOOC enrollment continues to grow. IAE Blog. Retrieved 3/31/2016 from

Moursund, D. (11/18/2015). College and job readiness of U.S. high school graduates. IAE Blog. Retrieved 3/31/2015 from

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Monday, 25 January 2021

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