My experience teaching in a networked classroom at Carnegie Mellon. . .

During the Spring of 1996 I was given the opportunity to teach a first year writing course in one of four state of the art computer networked classrooms at CMU. Prior to this I had taught in a computer classroom but not a networked computer classroom. Suddenly I had many more teaching tools at my disposal, but I didnít know what to do with them. And, no one was offering to show me how. The classrooms were designed like theatres. My room had eight semi-circular rows, each located several feet above the other. The rows contained a number of Power Macintosh computers with twenty-inch monitors. The teacher station, located at the front of the room, also displayed a Power Macintosh with a twenty-inch monitor, laser printer, scanner and speakers. Behind the teacher station, facing the classroom, was a twelve-foot screen which was attached to a multi media projector. Essentially, if I wanted, anything that appeared on my computer monitor could appear on the twelve-foot screen in front of the class. The lab was networked to the WWW, and to the Andrew system which allowed them to use electronic mail, electronic bulletin boards, chat rooms, and the Prep Editor during class time (students also had 24 hour access to computer labs on campus). It seemed that all the teaching "toys" (as I referred to them at the time) were there for me to "play" with Ė but I needed to learn how to use them. My conscious would not allow me to walk into this new computer classroom and teach in a traditional way. Suddenly I was searching for ways to use these technologies afforded to me in ways that would further the goals of my course and encourage my students to become better writers. One of my greatest discoveries was that the students were more knowledgeable about on-line technologies than I was. So, while I taught them Argumentation - - they taught me how to use the technology. In turn, together we learned how to use the technology to further the goals of our class.