An Investigation into the Use of Classroom Management Software as a means of Instruction Delivery in a Practical Computer Module

Barry O’ Loughlin

Athlone Institute of Technology

This paper describes the use of classroom management software as a means of instruction delivery in a computer laboratory environment to enhance the learning opportunities of students on practical computer modules.
Computer laboratory classes can act as a challenge for an instructor. With student numbers increasing, the time an instructor can spend beside a student in demonstration mode has reduced significantly. While video tutorial files can reduce the negative aspects of this “lost time” it leaves the students very much in self-instruction mode – a mode in which some students suffer. Technology can help to solve this problem to a large degree namely in the use of classroom management software. This software provides a significant amount of functionality but most importantly the ability for all, or a selection of students to see the instructors screen on their own monitors. This allows the instructor to provide a demonstration of, for example, an element of a computer application to all students at the outset of a class. Following this, students who understand the demonstrated element can then work ahead on a practical question posed that requires using the functionality demonstrated. Students who require seeing the demonstration again (and perhaps in more detail) can continue to have the instructors screen displayed on their monitors and a new demonstration can be provided.
This research has been conducted using an action research approach. Students in the first year of a Bachelor of Arts in Accounting course have been the key subjects in the research. The module used to deliver this technology-enhanced instruction is an application module (Computer Applications) delivered in a computer laboratory.
Student feedback to date has been very positive. Physical layouts of computer laboratories are not as issue as students can see the demonstration on their own screens rather than having to look at output from a data projector. Students whom are confident in a particular area can work ahead at their own pace while remaining students can view a more detailed demonstration.
Questions that still remain to be answered include:
1.                  What impact, if any that this new approach will have on student’s marks in exams?
2.                  What other classroom management software functionality can enhance both the students’ learning and the instructor’s delivery?

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