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?
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.