Date of Award


Access Restriction


Degree Name

Doctorate in Education



School or College

School of Education

First Advisor

Elizabeth Reilly

Second Advisor

Ernesto Colin

Third Advisor

Philip Molebash


Why did we ever purchase computers and place them along the wall or in the corner of a classroom? Why did we ever ask students to work individually at a computer? Why did we ever dictate that students should play computer games or answer questions built from a narrow data set? And why are we still doing this with computers in classrooms today?

This approach has contributed to a systemic problem of low student engagement in course materials and little inclusion of student voice, particularly for traditionally underrepresented students. New transformational tools and pedagogies are needed to nurture students in developing their own ways of thinking, posing problems, collaborating, and solving problems. Of interest, then, is the predominance in today’s classrooms of programmed learning and teaching machines that we dub 21st century learning. We have not yet fully harnessed the transformational power and potential of the technology that schools already possess and that many students are bringing on their own.

This dissertation aims to address what is missing in best practices of technology in the classroom. Herein these pages will be performed a document analysis of cornerstone books written by John Dewey, Paulo Freire, and Seymour Papert. This analysis will be in the form of annotations comprised of the author’s experience as an experienced educator and researcher, and founded in the extant relevant theories of critical theory, technology, and constructivism. The three philosophers were selected for their contributions to constructivism and their urgings to liberate the student from an oppressive system. With a different approach to educational technology, students could be working towards something greater than themselves or the coursework, something with a passionate purpose derived from student inquiry. Instead of working at the computer and having a “one and done” experience, students could be actively transforming their studies and their world. And instead of reifying existing social and racial inequities outside of the classroom through the large computer purchases and the dominant culture attitudes and beliefs found in many software products and databases, we could be examining our practices and programs with a critical lens that allows us to question and seek more inclusive community strategies.

The final chapter is about asking for, pushing for, and dreaming for new kinds of schools, classrooms, software, hardware, and new ways to think about and create new opportunities for students. Mixed reality, sometimes called augmented reality, is likely the anticipated future of computers in the classroom.

We need to, very deeply and purposefully, mix up electronics with people. We are in a new era with new understandings of old issues showing up in old problems. A unified learning theory for computers, computing, and digital learning environments could help to redefine classroom spaces and class time, as well as graduation outcomes. The revolution will indeed be live on the Internet, but it will also be remixed and recreated by students organically and authentically pursuing their own truth.