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Online Masters in Computing in Education
Teachers College, Columbia University
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Online Masters in Computing in Education

About Us > About the Program

About the Program

The Online and Intensive programs (as well as the “regular”year-round program at the College) have a constructivist orientation.We believe that human beings construct knowledge and their views of the world as they develop and mature. They do this through interaction with their environments, including other people. Some implications are that the view, the learner is an active and inquiring agent, curious about the world and trying to understand it. What is often called a“traditional” or “behaviorist” view of education holds that the role of the teacher is to give students information and knowledge (most often through lecture or textbook) and that the role of the learner is to absorb, memorize, and repeat on tests what teachers give them.

In a constructivist setting, the role of the teacher is to guide students in their learning. This is necessary for several reasons.First, no teacher can be expected to have all the information or knowledge in any subject. Technology has played a key role in creating more knowledge and in making it available to anyone, and teachers need to guide students in how to know what they need to know, how to find it, and how to evaluate it. Second, as John Dewey explained, what good teachers do is to set up environments and experiences in which students can think for themselves, investigate questions, solve problems, and make collaborative decisions with others. (For more on Dewey’s ideas on problem solving, see H. Budin in Pocket Knowledge)

One of the leading organizations in the field of technology and education, ISTE (International Society for Technology and Education)has produced a sets of standards for students and teachers for their knowledge and use of technology. These standards feature a tools-based model of technology use – that is, it use technology as a set of production, problem-solving and decision-making, communication, and research tools.  Further, ISTE elaborates a set of “essential conditions” for schools to use technology effectively, for creating what they call “new learning environments” as opposed to “traditional learning environments”:student-centered learning rather than teacher-centered instruction;active/inquiry-based learning rather than passive learning; multisensory stimulation rather than single sense stimulation;authentic, real-world context rather than an isolated, artificial context; and more.Our courses emphasize the active participation of students in discussion, investigation – individual and in groups, and presentation.And while the program does not lead to a teaching license, its courses satisfy most of ISTE’s standards for technology-using teachers.