Moursund's IT in Education Home Page

Dave Moursund's Blog for the discussion of his current and past writing projects.

Teacher’s Guide to Computers in the Elementary SchoolCreative Commons License
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 License.

Moursund, D.G. (1980, 2005). Teacher’s Guide to Computers in the Elementary School.

Click here for PDF file of the book.

Click here for Microsoft Word file of this book. Note that this may download the document to your desktop so that you need to open it from there. The file name is ElEd1980.doc.

Click here for Table of Contents.

Click here for Preface to the January 2005 reprint.

Click here for the Preface to the 1980 edition.

Table of Contents

Preface to the 2005 Reprint 2
Preface to the 1980 Edition 5
Introduction 6
What is a Computer? 10
What is Interactive Computing? 12
What is Computer Hardware? 14
What is Computer Software? 16
What are Programming Languages? 18
Main Categories of Educational Use of Computers? 21
What Impact Should Computers Be Having? 23
How Are Computers Used as an Aid to Instruction? 26
What Should Elementary School Students Learn? 29
What Role Should Calculators Play? 32
What do Elementary School Teachers Need to Know? 35
Elementary School Computer-Related Activities 37
The Psychological Barrier 38
Computer Related Activities 39
Calculator-Based Activities 41
Computer Activities 42
Brief Guide to Periodical Literature 44
Glossary 46

Preface to the 1980 Edition

Most elementary school teachers are people-oriented, and are not particularly machine-oriented. They are vitally concerned with children, in helping children to develop their potentials and to learn. It is not surprising, then, that many elementary school teachers view computers and calculators with suspicion. Will computers help students to learn more, better, faster? Will use of calculators lead to a better understanding of mathematics and increased problem solving skills? Will calculators and computers dehumanize education? The answers to these questions are both yes and no. Much depends upon the teacher, the student, the equipment, the instructional materials, and so on. The knowledge, attitude, and skills of the teacher are apt to be the dominant factors.Ten years ago questions about instructional use of calculators and computers were of academic interest, but did not concern the ordinary elementary school teacher. Calculators and computers were too expensive, and were not even readily available in high schools. Their impact upon most elementary schools was zero. But the price of both calculators and computers has declined rapidly, so that now good quality calculators cost under $10, and computers are beginning to become a common household item. Calculator and computer usage is commonplace in many junior high schools and high schools. It is no longer appropriate for elementary school teachers and elementary schools to ignore their potential uses in instruction.Perhaps the most difficult questions have to do with what children should learn to do mentally, what they should learn to do using books, pencil and paper, and what they should learn to do using other aids such as calculators and computers. The capabilities of these electronic machines continue to grow rapidly and their price is now quite affordable. Thus the whole content of the elementary school curriculum needs to be rethought, and substantial revision may be necessary. This booklet is written for preservice and inservice elementary school teachers who have had no formal training in the computer field. It is designed to help such people gain an initial level of computer literacy and to lay a foundation for additional learning. (Teachers with some computer experience may find the booklet provides a useful overview and some food for thought.) After an introductory section, the main part of this booklet consists of a sequence of questions; each question is followed by a brief answer and by a longer, more detailed answer. The latter part of the booklet is a long section containing sample activities that can be used in an elementary school classroom or in a teacher-training situation. The booklet ends with a Brief Guide to Periodical Literature and a Glossary.