The sequence of types of activities that leads to new and deep understanding, concrete, representational, and abstract, is a key to stimulating new understanding in a learner. Where the computer, and not necessarily the Internet, can powerfully influence learning is in the intermediate stage of represention; for example, using the computer to represent the abstractions underlying concrete experience: animations, on-demand digital video, charts, graphs, simulations,
interactive learning environments like Logo, virtual math manipulatives, Medmyst, etc. Putting a student in control of a computer-generated analog for phenomenon with which the student has some experience, but lacks understanding, stimulates and empowers the student to explore and create personal understanding. In my view, that's as good as technology integration gets, and Franks examples are good ones.
Mindstorms is still a compelling account on how to effectively use computers in support of student learning. Frank's reminder of what we used to do that worked with computers is timely. Vince's reminder of how abstrtact working on the computer becomes when it is de-coupled from real-world experience is a real and present danger in our current K-12 learning environment.
Waits River Valley School