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One Computer in Multi-grade Classroom
Julito Aligaen, Asuncion National High School, Davao del Norte, Philippines

Despite the growing attention on the use of computer technologies in education, its actual use in the classroom has not grown to the extent that many predicted. One reason is the lack of equipment. Yet, many teachers have shown that it is possible to accomplish great things with access to even a single computer in the multi-grade classroom.

The One Computer in Multi-grade Classroom project initiated in the Asuncion National High School in the Philippines aimed to: (i) develop life skills of the students through ICT and; (ii) reduce the digital divide among elementary school teachers, pupils and the community. The project was planned to support the learning of 58 pupils in the combined Grade 5 and Grade 6 classes.

The 30 Grade 5 and 28 Grade 6 students were paired, resulting in 28 pairs of one Grade 5 and 6 student each pair, and 1 pair of two Grade 5 students. Each pair of students used the computer for one hour per session, getting to the computer again after all the other pairs had their turn. The computer ran for 10 hours per day from 7 am to 5 pm. The teacher-in-charge was on duty for only eight hours, leaving the students assigned to the first and last hour to open and shut down the facilities. As a result, each pair of students received 1.70 hour of computer time per week, which was enough to complete one learning competency in both academic and ICT skills. At the end of the scheduled activity, the two students reported their output with the use of audio equipment.

Integration of all the subjects is possible but not simultaneously to avoid interruptions or distractions to the regular classes that are being conducted while the paired students are working in the computer cubicle. The computer cubicle is set up within the classroom, with one personal computer linked to a television. Software and educational programmes were installed in the computer, such as Microsoft Office and Microsoft Encarta 2006.

As a result of the project, the students' academic performance improved and the level of ICT skills for this age group ranged from intermediate to advance. The impact was evident in the students' interest to explore, discover and experience, and their increasing self confidence through reporting and presentation to their teachers and peers. The increase in the teachers' ICT skills as well as the parental support and approval have contributed to the positive outcome of this project.