To start the most significant fact that should be stated is that thecomputer is a tool, and as with any educational tool, from books to crayons, itcan be used to enhance the curriculum and promote learning, but it can also bemisused and abused. In this essay, I will discuss the disadvantages of havingcomputers in the classrooms due to the misuse and the abuse of this tool.
I found it hard to find research that had been done on this topic becausenot only is the research on the effectiveness of computers in the classroomscarce but the research that is there is often done by software companies andtherefore may be biased. (Emmans 2001). Even though there is no clear-cutanswer to the question of a computer being a friend or foe in the classroom,having an unsolvable question of good or bad brings many issues to light
For example, the fact that much of the software designed for children isappealing to them. If nothing else, it at least holds the children's attention.Though this may seem like a positive characteristic, consider this, justbecause a television show holds your attention, does it necessarily educateyou? The answer to this is simple, maybe some do, but certainly not all do,mostly they are just simply entertaining. This causes me to raise an eyebrow atsome, not all, software. As a teacher, one must not use time-fillers, cause achild can watch television or play on a computer at home, but as a teacher, wemust educate, and if there is no educational value in the software, what goodis it for a teacher?
On the defense for teachers, another reason for computers being ashortcoming is that sometimes the software is not obvious that it isnon-educational. This can be a common mistake of any educator, being fooledthat a product could be educational when it is merely entertainment softwaredressed up in an educational costume aimed at these gullible teachers.
According to Cindy C. Emmans (2001), a professor of Educational Technologyat Central Washington University, on software in the classroom...
" Often feedback is the key to learning, and computers are appealingbecause this feedback can be immediate, which is of course a very effectivelearning tool. Unfortunately, this feedback is not often as effective as itmight be, perhaps because it is not easy to return to the original question totry again, or the student must begin at the beginning to review the originalcontent rather then backing up a step or two. In some cases, the feedback forthe wrong answers is more appealing than that for the right answer, causingstudents to try and get the wrong answer simply for the entertainmentvalue".
Gerald W. Bracey sums it up adequately in a journal article called Principalby basically saying that the bells and whistles are all there, but theeducation is not, because it was not produced by someone who understands howchildren learn. (1996, p.6).
More arguments in the research area continued in September of 2000, theAlliance for Childhood published a statement against the use of computers inschools. More than 85 experts in various fields including psychiatry, education,and philosophy signed the statement in which calls for a suspension on thepromoting introduction of computers into the nation's elementary schools untilthere is a more careful assessment of their effect (Hafner, 2000). Anotherinfluence in opposition to computers in classrooms is that of Jane Healy, aneducational psychologist and the author of "Failure to Connect," abook criticizing educational applications of computers. Thomas Cramptoninterviewed Mrs. Healy and she declared that computers "can hurtchildren's personal skills, work habits concentration, motivation, (and) thedevelopment of social skills" (IHT, October 2000, p. 19).
Another reason that computers in the classroom would prove to be adisadvantage is the availability of computers in the classroom to eachindividual student. It is rare to find a school that, in each classroom, has acomputer supplied for each student. This then brings up the problem ofscheduling and rotating the students to the computers available. (Tiene 2001)This begins a whole new ball game in which you are now consuming a lot of timein which could be used for more productive measures rather then schedulingcomputer time for each student. If this is the case, and only a specific amountof students can be on the computer at one time, then you are dividing yourclassroom, and not integrating it, as it should be. This causes manydifficulties in teaching a whole group instruction, which leads to problems inskill development, since the attention of some students is lacking. (Tiene2001).
On the Colorado state education web site (2003), I was able to findquestions that were asked to teachers regarding computers in their classrooms.The teachers were asked, "What do you find unattractive about teaching ina computer based classroom?" The one teacher commented that, "Students have a tendency to come in a print out their papers at the beginningof class instead of coming into class with a hard copy..." Another teachersaid, " Technological difficulty, your whole lesson could be shot for theday if the computer would go down". When the teachers were asked about thedifficulties they faced themselves and with the students due to computers inthe classroom, they answered, " It is hard to get the students attentionwhen they are on the computers." Another teacher commented, " Thereare times that I send them to work and instead they are interacting with eachother." Another teacher stated her fear of the computer classroom bysaying that, " Students are at their own screens, they're in their ownlittle world, and they are not talking to their classmates, sometimes I thinkthat they don't even know half the names of all the people in theirclass." (Barnes 2003)
I feel that these teachers comments are very important when looking at theissue of computers in the classrooms, because these are the people thatactually interact with the children in the classroom, they are not just somerandom research study by a software company, these people are the real thing,and they see how computers are effecting their classrooms.
Another issue of computers in the classrooms regards the child's health. Ifa child were to be functioning on a computer for a long interlude of time orwith incorrect positioning they will inadvertently obstruct their own health,some problems caused from this include muscular-skeletal injuries and visionproblems. (MacArthur & Shneiderman, 1986).
Another issue concerning computer use in classrooms is that a lot ofteachers have not been trained to use a computer, and many do not know how. Anenormous amount of time would have to be consumed for the teachers to learnboth the hardware and the software of the computer. They also would need timeto collaborate with other teachers. Time is something that many teachers spendplanning lessons and the weekly events of their classroom. The other problemthat was just mentioned was the training of the teachers. Some educators do nothave local training options available to them. Some do not have the time ormoney to spend on it. Another issue is that even if a teacher does go throughtraining, there are always unsuspected things that can go wrong with acomputer. If a teacher were to base their whole lesson on a computer, and itwere to crash, and the teacher just being minimally skilled in using computers,would not be able to fix the system so that they could continue their lesson.(Tiene 2001).Therefore an on-site technology expert would be needed on site atall times in case any of these incidences would happen, and quite frankly I donot think that there are too many school districts looking for another expense.
Another reason for computers being a disadvantage in the classroom is thatif the computer is Internet accessible, if this is the case, then the childrencan be exposed to Internet content that is not appropriate for their age level.They can also be exposed to child predators, which is a huge concern in today'sworld.
Though this may seem far-fetched it truly is not in an article published onthe gurdian angel websitein 2000 states,
"The facts are plain. Children are being targeted, solicited, and madevictims by pedophiles. What do the ratios or statistics matter? Isn't even onetoo many? These predators range from the simple minded closet pedophile who hassurfaced because they believe they are safely anonymous behind their accountalias, to the highly organized and skilled child pornography rings that operatepredominantly off of US soil, behind quick discard web sites, and anonymousre-mailers, pushing their hideous wares for big profits. Have you ever heard ofa child being molested or kidnapped in your hometown? Don't you teach your kidsto watch for certain things and, not to talk to, or go anywhere with, strangersfor just that reason? This is our point. Just as there are real world lessonsthat you teach your children, there is a necessity to teach them cyber-worldlessons. " (Hook, 2000).
To put this quite simply, are you sure that your child is being watched veryclosely when accessing the Internet at school? It sure would be hard for oneteacher to keep a close eye on each individual student in the classroom whenthey are all accessing the Internet at the same time. Therefore are you, as aparent or a teacher, really quite sure that a computer is necessary to learn inschool? I mean, didn't you, the parent or teacher, learn in school without thecomputer? I agree that learning the latest technology is a necessity, but I donot agree with using computers for classes like mathematics or reading.
To sum it all up, Computers in the classroom lacks research of it being anadvantage in the classroom. Computers in the classroom may not provide thestudents with the proper education that they need if the software being used isnot adequate. Computers may not be, depending on the school, made available toeach student. The attention of the students is harder to get when they are onthe computer. An inexperienced teacher in the technology area may cause manyproblems in the classroom, and consume valuable time that could be used toeducate. Most schools do not provide an on site technician in case a difficultymay arise. The children's health may be affected by long-term use of thecomputers, and probably the most frightening one is that these children can beexposed to child predators and unfiltered inappropriate content through the webwhile they are in school and in their classrooms presumed to be receiving theireducation.