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[seul-edu] Computers in education - costs, etc.

On Mon, 14 May 2001, James Oden wrote:

> Now I am not saying that you cannot use computers as tool to help
> teach the children.

Yes, this is something the people (inside and outside of education) don't
really know.  A computer is a tool.  It can be used to assist learning, it
can possibly replace some older tools (Pen, Paper, Reasearch facility,
text books, etc), but it can not replace the most important aspect of a
learing environement.  The Teacher!

I have worked with several charter schools, and they were all trying to
push toward "education on a computer", instead of "education with the
assistance of a computer".  The only students than can learn directly with
computer based education are the students that can learn via
distancelearning corisposance (sp) courses.  Take a look at those numbers,
and you will see the failure rate of those that even attempt them is
extreemly high.

> OK.  I'm done.  Hope I did not offend anybody, but this is something
> I feel very strongly about.

Same here...

> I see so many states pooring lots of money
> into computer infrastructure

This is one of my biggest gripes.  I started getting intersted in
Technology in Education while I was in High School, after seeing $M shoved
at Compaq and Microsoft with very little coming back in return.  This is
part of the reason for the formation of OSEF (http://www.osef.org).  We
want to bring the cost/benfit to much more sane proportions.  This
includes time as a cost.  Most school districts do not even think of
"student time" as a cost, while it should be one of their most guarded

> thinking that this will somehow prepare
> these students for job markets of the future, when, personally, I would
> rather see someone who has mastered Calculas, can express his/herself
> cogently in paper and verbally, and can think logically, than
> 10 certified in something dudes.

Agreed, though I do feel that basic computer abilities (login, used of a
web browser for reaserch applications, word processing, etc), are rather
important items to master.  Even if it is only to facilitate the other
aspects of learning.

This intergration of learning, is part of what made it possible for
Corbett Elementary School to win national school library media program of
the year (http://www.corbetttschool.org/~kimgrimes/ala.letter.gif).
Between Kim Grimes (Corbett's Librarian), myself, Eloisa (the school lab
tech), and the administration and teachers, we have been striving to
connect from the library, to the computer lab, to the classroom, and back
to the library.

Students get research direction and focus in the library.  Do their
research in the Library (both computer and book), and the computer lab.
Catch up on research in the classroom (~4 Linux systems in each 3rd, 4th,
and 5th grade rooms), outline and write their paper or presentation in the
classroom (Alphasmarts, essentialy a keyboard buffer device), and cleanup
and edit their reports in the computer lab.  If they were creating a
presentation (star impress), they then go to the library to present their
information on one of the two computerised projectors in the library.

Basicaly what I am saying is that logical use of computers in education
has it's place, unfortunatly most school districts (at least here in
Arizona, USA) prefer to add to the bottom line of Microsoft, Compaq, and
others that take them for every cent they have, and ask for more.


> Cheers...james

Harry McGregor, CEO, Co-Founder
Hmcgregor@osef.org, (520) 661-7875 (CELL)
Open Source Education Foundation, http://www.osef.org