Nowadays every school has to have computers. I don't refer to legal requirementbut to perception. Schools are judged on how many computers they have. It would be more to the point if they were judged on their computer-savvy.
I'm a fan of computers; my computer is a vital part of my work. I believe computer literacy is as important for our children to acquire as any other "basic skill". But I'm not a fan of the wholesale introduction of computers into our schools, particularly the junior ones. How many computers a school has is not the issue - the issue is, how do they use them?
In many cases, the answer is: poorly.
The reasons are simple enough. Foremost, the teachers have insufficient training and experience with computers. Relatedly, computers are not yet an integrated part of the school curriculum, and every school and teacher re-invents the wheel, trying to find good software, trying to work out how to fit it into the classroom curriculum, trying to work out schedules to make sure every student gets a fair go, struggling with the lack of technical support. And of course, in many cases (perhaps most), the computers are old, with the associated problems of being more likely to have technical problems, being slow, limited in memory, incompatible with current software, and so on.
The most important problems schools have with computers:
- lack of financial resources (to buy enough computers, up-to-date computers, enough printers and other peripherals, licenses for good software, technical support)
- the inability of teachers to know how to use the computers effectively
- difficulty in integrating computers into the school / classroom curriculum (problems of use, of scheduling, of time)
Using computers effectively is much more than simply being able to type an essay or produce a graph. Parents and educators who deplore the obsession with computers in schools see computers as eroding children's basic skills and knowledge, because they only see computers being used as copy-and-paste and making-it-pretty devices. But computers have potential far beyond that.
Computers can be used to help:
- extend the scope of searches
- retrieve precisely targeted data with greater speed and accuracy
- increase the amount of data held ready for use
- sift relevant data from irrelevant
- turn data into information
The true value of a computer isn't seen until the user can use it not only as a presentation tool (for making work attractive), and as a productivity tool (for producing work more quickly, effectively, thoroughly), but also as a cognitive tool.
Using computers as cognitive tools
A cognitive tool helps you think.
Many people thought computers would revolutionize education by providing individual instruction in the form of tutorials. In particular, as a means of drilling students. Drilling can be helpful to overlearn a skill to achieve automaticity, but it doesn’t help transfer to meaningful problems. That is, you can learn a skill, you can rote-learn facts, but drilling doesn't help meaningful learning - it doesn't teach understanding.
Although computer tutorials have become somewhat more sophisticated, they still only present a single interpretation of the world - they don’t allow students to find their own meaning. They don't teach students to reflect on and analyze their own performance.
“I do not believe that students learn from computers or teachers — which has been a traditional assumption of most schooling. Rather, students learn from thinking in meaningful ways. Thinking is engaged by activities, which can be fostered by computers or teachers.” (Jonassen, p4)
So, the computer itself isn't the issue - the issue, as always, is what you do with it. For example, when the Web is simply used as a source of material that can be downloaded and pasted without thought, then no, it is not of value. But when the learner searches the Web, evaluates the information, finds the gold in the dross, uses that to construct a knowledge base, to develop meaning, then yes, it is a valuable resource.
Computers can support meaningful learning by
- reducing time spent on mechanical tasks such as rewriting, producing graphs, etc
- helping find information
- helping organize information
- making it easier to share information and ideas with others
Related articles/sites on the Web:
A recent news articles on the subject of compulsory laptops at a Seattle school
New York Times articles about computers in education: Technology critic takes on computers in schools ; Making the most of the Internet's potential for education
An Atlantic monthly column: The computer delusion
A Boston Globe column about computers for young children: Computers, software can harm emotional, social development
The Impact of Computers on Education
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The Impact of Computers on Education
Technology is all around us these days. If you don't understand the basics of computers and how to run one your choices of jobs and things to do are limited. Almost everywhere you go and every job you can think of uses computers. For this reason, computers have become a big part of the education system. I'm planning on teaching elementary students so I researched the impact that computers have had on teachers and students.
When I become a teacher there is no doubt that I will use computers in my classroom and my students will do activities with computers. It is just the way to do things now. There are so many valuable programs out there to help students learn and to help teachers teach that computers are pretty much a necessity in classrooms. In my opinion for an elementary classroom there should be at least five to ten computers in each room. Without the access to the computers it is hard to take advantage of all the wonderful things a computer has to offer. Even using the internet has a source of information for the students or has a tutorial for students who are struggling. There are so many ways that classrooms will benefit from computers.
The first thing I looked at was how teachers were being affected by computers. "Integrating technology into your teaching can change the way you deliver content to your classes." Not only are teachers affected by having to do grades and attendance by computers now but, they also have to worry about teaching their students about computers and integrating it into the daily lesson plans. By doing attendance on computers it saves a lot of time and confusion for schools. No one has to go around and pick up attendance and it does not have to be recorded anymore. Just one easy, quick step and it is all taken care of. In my opinion although computers can be very helpful it might take a while and some long hours for a teacher to switch over from running a classroom one way to using computers in their daily lesson plans.
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Computers Integrating Technology Lesson Plans Attendance Education System Valuable Quick Classrooms Offer Confusion
Another way that teachers can be affected by computers is that they might need some sort of training in order to use computers effectively in their classrooms. New teachers who have used computes in their homes or even in their schooling will be pressuring schools to get them the equipment to use computers in their classrooms. It is going to be the teachers that have been teachers for a while that you will have to convince to use computers in classroom. Teachers that have completed college within the last five years probably know the importance of computers and will probably be up to using them in their classrooms.
The important question is why computers should be involved in education. First, computers are an important part of our society; therefore, every student needs to learn how to use a computer. My fear is that if more computers don't get into schools that some students are not going to be prepared for the real world. When I entered college I was bombarded with stuff to complete on my computer. We were responsible for papers to type, research to be done through the internet, emailing professors, and we even had to work with Web CT to turn in assignments. It took me a while to get used to this because all that I had experience with was one computer class at my high school. I know that if more of my classes would have required us to complete things on the internet or on a computer for that matter I would have been more prepared for college.
Even if you do not go onto college you still have to have knowledge of computers. There are very few jobs, if any, that don't require some use of a computer. Our textbook, Computer Confluence, talks about B.F. Skinner visiting his daughter's classroom. He found that some students did not learn as fast as others but, the teacher still taught at the same speed. Watching this go on in the classroom made him want to build a machine that would quiz the kids and reward them for right answers. Now there are so many software programs that can be used as a tutorial system in classrooms to help students that don't learn as fast as other students. I believe that if it weren't for computers that there would be more and more kids in need of special help. Computers also offer an alternative solution to learning if the teacher needs it. It a certain student is not grasping the material the teacher is trying to teach she might make him complete a portion of some software program to get a better understanding of the material. I also came across a homework help site on the internet where students could go to email questions to a teacher and get a response.
Computers are not only a important part of elementary and high school education but, also of college education. One major way that the internet itself has impacted education is though online college courses. Many different schools offer these courses and it is a way to earn your degree at home or in your spare time. I can see online classes being a huge success in the future. I often wonder if someday college buildings will not longer be and the only way to complete college is though online courses.
Overall I have found mainly good, positive things with computers and education. It makes a teachers life easier by being able to do attendance and grades on a computer. It gives the students an opportunity to enhance their learning abilities though different means. If also gives working men and women a chance to complete college though the internet. The main concern of many articles I read and myself is that plagiarism might become a huge concern and burden for teachers if the internet starts to control the world to much more. I, preparing to be a teacher, am so excited to use and integrate computers into my classroom and use it wherever I see fit.
 Those who can teach by Ryan and Cooper
 Those who can teach by Ryan and Cooper
 www.educause.edu/ir/library/html/cem9949.html written by Carolina Carner, T. Bruce Hall, and Wendy Lipe