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The Importance of Computers in Children's lives

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The Importance of Computers in Children's lives

Humans are making new inventions every day. Since the beginning of time, man has been inventing. Homo habilis started by inventing tools and weapons so he could survive. The inventions never stopped and something new is being invented each day: cars, computers, and even spacecrafts. We started inventing things like computers not just for survival, but to make everyday life as easy as possible. In today's society computers have become very important part of our lives.

Many educators believe that the use of computers in school answers most of the important "learning" questions: This means test scores would go up, the individual pace of students would make it possible for the "slower" students to catch up, but of course there are many more who oppose to this idea. The introduction of computers in schools in poorer neighborhoods would mean more, because, unlike the upper and middle-class school districts, these kids would have little or no access to computers in their homes after school. A question that needs to be addressed is whether the novelty of computers makes a difference. While the better-off students were already "bored" or "surfeited" with the use of the computer, and their attention was no longer drawn to this technology as a "novelty", this "novelty" might just create interest and study improvement with lower-income students who may not have had the advantage of computer use before.

What needs to be examined is both sides of the argument that computers somehow improve learning, sharpen minds, and get students more interested in learning. For example, is it true that, while there are many who feel there are educational and motivational advantages to this technology, we know that there are others who complain that it tends to make the students lazy, isolates them, dampens their creativity, and oversimplifies information.

The question that arises in my mind is that can computers replace teachers? In other words, a computer's input-output is constant. On the other hand, you may have a good and inspiring teacher, or one who is just waiting out his time for a pension. Should we let our brains rely on someone else's technology, so that all we have to do is press few keys, and the computer does our "thinking" for us?

If computers in schools are meant to improve our grades, as we enter this 21st Century are grades still that important?

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In other words, should we rely on what the computer does for us, if it is programmed right, or should we continue to try to use our own personal ingenuity (if any) to learn something.

In addition, there is this nagging feeling that computers, no matter how sophisticated, is not going to "turn on" someone from being bored or indifferent or just not interested to suddenly wanting to know everything about Einstein or Shakespeare.

What about a student's imagination? Is this now limited to the computer keyboard and screen and bytes of memory? It is sort of like television sports. Millions watch, say, baseball, or Tiger Woods on a golf course, who have NEVER been to a ball park or a golf course, and the only thing they know is what the TV shows them. The distinct possibility is that most of the world will appear only on a computer screen for many students. This, of course is fine with some educators who believe that at least these students (mainly the underprivileged or underachievers) at least get a glimpse of the world, and that this glimpse might want to make them study harder, achieve more and really do something with their lives. This of course, is wishful thinking on the part of the educators.

The fact is that there is a bias. A bias to the point that computers are becoming a crutch, a learning tool that replaces one-on-one instruction, and makes education even more impersonal than it already is. From my personal experience, I know that the use of computers in primary school classes even pre-school, in some cases, does accelerate the learning process. By that one means getting used to thinking, and getting young minds focused, something very difficult to do, given the short attention span of most children.

Again, here it would seem obvious that some homes where even pre-schoolers have access to computers even if it is only computer video games have an advantage over others to whom computers are totally new. Ask any primary school kids why they like using a computer, and one should not be surprised to hear someone say: "It is fun, I enjoy playing on the computer" but not realizing that most of the games they play is educational.

I believe that any good educator should not view computers negatively because it is the 21st century's new thing but they should aim at the possible advantages that their students will receive. One always must come back to the idea that education is not merely book learning, or recitation of numbers or quotes from "great" books, or writing compositions, but expanding one's imagination that becomes a basis for a stable adult life.

According to Gary Burnett, at the beginning of the 1990s, there were more than 3.5 million computers in U.S. elementary and secondary schools "a ratio of one computer for every 13 students. In addition 99 percent of all schools across the country reported that they provide their students with some access to computers." (Burnett 1) Again, as in so many instances, figures can be deceiving and they certainly look good at the beginning of an article. But read down a little bit and the author continues by writing, "the technological transformation of education in the United States has not been as extensive as these numbers might suggest, however. The same study found that, despite the substantial presence of technology on the schools, many students have yet to gain more than minimal access to it, often using computers no more than once a year." (Barnett 1) This is a frightening evaluation. It is like saying the garage has two new cars in it, but nobody drives them often, because the keys are not available.

Barnett, however, goes on to put the burden on the educators. They must, he writes, "clarify the role of computers as a pedagogical tool, define its relationship to existing curricula, and establish the level of human and financial investment they are willing to make." (Burnett 1) This, from a subjective point of view, shows what is wrong with education in the U.S. today. Here we have a marvelous tool to expand knowledge at the press of a few keys the software is certainly available, and yet, somehow this marvelous computer system must play second fiddle to the curriculum and also to the abilities of the teacher. Somehow, in reading this article one gets the feeling when the teacher herself is bored, tired, or frustrated, the command to the kids is- "get to work on your computers."

Wendy Schwartz, a strong advocate for "The Value of Computer Learning" writes that there are three important reasons for making a computer in school a basic part of children's education: "Computer can make learning all subjects easierand they are especially valuable in developing children's language and problem-solving skillschildren can get a huge amount of information and knowledge that they couldn't possibly get from textbooks and more traditional learning tools. (And) understanding computer technology (called 'computer literacy') is necessary for most good paying and interesting careers." (Schwartz 1) She goes on to explain that, with the price of computers plummeting even schools with lower budgets can now afford them. The article then goes on to give parents some pointers about how they could evaluate the effective use of computers in their children's school, including a competent technical support staff.

While many vices are afraid about new things and new technology, the idea of a computer does not seem as frightening to children as it does to their parents and teachers. As Seymour Papert points out in Dan Page's article: "I wanted to give children the power to access the computer, and to have that power they needed a language that would allow them to tell the computer what to do." (Page 1) He was speaking of "Logo" which he "invented", and which is the most widely used programming language in our schools. Papert seems to have the right idea- and that is to begin computer literacy for young children through a language and concept they can understand at their own level. Thus, it becomes more exciting to "discover" things on your own, without having some adult standing over you explaining everything, and even limiting what you can do. Papert, in other words, has developed a level of understanding and learning at an early age something so-called "traditional" education seems to be failing to do.

Another article interviews four business leaders - each of whom feel that there needs to be some collaboration and interaction between business and education "First, we're still trying to find a proper way for technology, business, and educators to interactnot all children and not all schools have equal access to the wonders of technology. The technology industry should do whatever it can to do away with the Digital Divide." (Palmer 1) It seems that Microsoft and Apple, among others, are already spending millions to provide computer hardware and software to educators. The key is not so much the technology, as getting across the message that without computer literacy the students may end up at McDonalds (perhaps too strong a negative, but, true to some degree).

The book, "Computers in the Classroom" (Andrea R. Gooden) consists of six "stories", or examples in different parts of the country, indicating the advantages and possibilities of classroom computer learning, supported by grants from Apple Computer. The first "story" focuses on an all-boys' high school in Newark, NJ. There are community-related studies that the boys undertake which involves biology, English, and history, during various field trips investigating things of relevance to the community, all emphasizing not merely writing but critical thinking. Number Two is based in Abita, Louisiana, concerning multi-culturism studies in an elementary school, where the students collect local folklore and put it on CD-ROMs. The third location is the "revitalization" of an inner-city school in south Philadelphia, all under the guidance of one dedicated teacher. Number Four is a rural isolated community, Dos Palos High School in the San Joaquin valley of California, where the emphasis is on revising a curriculum to focus on jobs other than the fast-disappearing agriculture-based ones currently. The fifth location is a school-within-a-school in Harlem, where students use the Internet to share their stories and telecommunications skills with others around the world. The sixth location is on a Native American reservation in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, where the computer is helping students reach out to "discover" the rest of the world, and to provide insight into their own characteristics and traditions and problems for others to see and communicate.

These are interesting, if isolated cases. But it does provide some insight into just how computers could be used, when put in the hands of capable far-sighted educators. Of course, there are negative comments, too. Todd Oppenheimer talks about the "Computer Delusion": "After a decade of effort and the donation of equipment worth more than $25 million to thirteen schools, there is scant evidence of greater student achievement." (Oppenheimer 261)

As some Baby Boomers now reminisce about their first contact with computers a generation ago: "We loved them because we didn't have to think for an hour, and teachers loved them because they didn't have to teach, and parents loved them because it showed their schools were hi-tech. But no learning happened." (Oppenheimer 261)

Of course, opinions still vary on the effect of computers on the human brain, "in part because research on the brain is still so sketchy, and computers so (relatively) new, that the effect of computers on the brain remains a great mystery. Nobody knows how kids' internal wiring works." (Oppenheimer 270)

Given this new technology, there are critics who still are not sure what computers should be used for "Do we want computers to help students master basic skills and acquire factual knowledge? To raise test scores? As tools to create student-centered teaching and learning? To make our children more computer-literate?" (Kirkpatrick 1) Since computers just appeared in classrooms many people do not know what to expect from them. What are the advantages going to be?

Cornell University studies claim that continual use of a computer is bad for a child's posture. "The ergonomic and environmental psychology researchers found that almost forty percent of the third-to-fifth graders studied used computer workstations that put them at postural risk; the other 60 percent scored in a range indicated 'some concern." ( No author Cornell U.- 1) As Walter Minkel (2001) points out: "Human bodies are made for large motor movements- standing, reaching, carrying, and swatting as well as activities that require our eyes to change focus from things close to our eyes to things in the distance. Our bodies aren't intended to sit, fixed in one position, for hours, typing and clicking, with eyes focused on a screen" (Minkel 33)

What is clear is that the computer in the classroom helps the student redefine his own future and opportunities. It also provides the educators with the opportunity to see how a differently structured curriculum can bring out ideas and independent achievements of their students.

As far as classroom teaching and learning is concerned, "one size does not fit all". In fact, this approach may be harmful to some students. The problem is that some knowledgeable teacher will go on his own pace, expecting all students to stay with him, when in fact, not everyone can. The author, is giving an example of a computer class she attended, explained how angry she became because the instructor was not adjusting his instruction to fit her needs (nor, obviously, those of other students).

The suggestion of "differentiated classroom" makes good sense in setting student standards for learning and achieving, because they all have various interests, various attention spans, and comprehension levels. There should be no such thing as a single common denominator in a classroom. Some people in this country assume that all kids are the same. It is embedded in our school system. We force all kids through the same mold. If there is one thing on which both research and common sense agree, it is that kids are not the same that they learn in different ways, that they respond to different kinds of incentives.

Facts show that the brain learns best when it "does" not when it merely "absorbs". In addition, there must be "emotional safety", namely, an environment safe for learning to take place. And "doing" is something at the computer- downloading, uploading, keying in words, just reading the screens and the icons is a sort of involvement that just sitting at a desk and listening to the teacher drone on does not accomplish.

One of the tremendous advantages of computer-aided learning, whether in the classroom or at home, after classes, is that the student can go at his own pace. One of the major problems in many classes is the fast learner, who is impatient to move ahead, and the slow learner to embarrassed to ask questions and thus drifts on without full comprehension. Computer software has been found to be extremely helpful in learning another language, whether it is native-born Americans learning Spanish or French, or immigrants learning English as a second-language. There is so much software available now that, surely, language and other course curricula will have to be modified to use computers.

TIME Magazine recently devoted a cover story to the subject of "Growing Up Online". (May 10, 1999) There is more to computers than video games and Pokemon adventures and chat rooms. But the article advises parents to be watchful, on the one hand, and participatory on the other. The fact that there are more and more computers in schools only adds to the advantages of also having a home PC. In fact, the greatest advantage of computer literacy at school AND home is that the parents can get more involved in the studies of their children. There have, historically, been two complaints from children and teachers. Children often complain- "I don't understand that!" and then blame the teacher for "going too fast". The other complaint is that parents are not involved enough in what their children are doing in school. Computers help solve both dilemmas. The more computers the more informed and challenged young people are. With the price of home computers, and generous grants for computerization at schools making computers accessible even to pre-schoolers (who may be more computer-literate than some of their parents), the numbers of children using computers is sky-rocketing. According to TIME "in 1998 17 million kids, ages2 to 18 were on line. That number is expected to grow in five years to more than 42 million."

It is callous to say that the use of computers and a child's interest in spending more time before a screen will reduce crime, make a child more intelligent and obedient, but when a poll of teens shows that only 61% trust the information they get from teachers "a great deal" (compared with 83% from parents) then perhaps giving computers the opportunity to educate and interest school children is a good idea whose time has come.

I still believe that children need to be introduced to computers. Our society is not going to go back to Homo habilis, but it is going to go forward. We as humans have the nature to fear of things that we do not know, but if computers become part of our lives we will get use to them and we won't fear them as much. I in fact fear computers greatly and I believe the reason is because I was not introduced to it at an early stage. I wold not want my child to feel the same way about computers, since they are here to stay. My research proved that the usage will multiply through out the years.

It is true that a hand on experience is very important for children. However, in today's society computers are just as important for students. There are many programs that help them learn math, reading or writing. Of course, there are people who oppose to the computer usage in schools, but are still too many uncertainties. Whether it actually makes kids smarter, or merely gives them the opportunity to learn what "old-fashioned" education and educators cannot, is still not totally proven. But it cannot hurt to continue to make an effort to widen knowledge, expand horizons, and make this coming generation computer literate.

Works Cited

Burnett, Gary: "Technology as a Tool for Urban Classrooms" ERIC Clearinghouse on Urban Education, accessed April 22, 2001

Kirkpatrick, Heather, and Cuban, Larry: "Computers Make Kids Smarter- Right?" TECHNOS Quarterly, Vol. 7 ()2) Summer, 1998

Minkel, Walter: "Kids, Computers, and Comfort" School Library Journal Vol 47 (3) March, 2001

Okrent, Daniel: "Raising Kids on Line" TIME Magazine, May 10, 1999

Oppenheimer, Todd: "The Computer Delusion. " The Presence of Others. Ed. Andrea A. Lunsford, John J. Ruszkiewicz. New York: Bedford, / St. Martin's, 2000. 255 - 285.

Page, Don: "Seymour Papert: Computers, Kids & Powerful Ideas" Concerge Magazine, April 2001

Palmer, Gina Adams: "Viewpoints" Converge Magazine, February 2001

Schwartz, Wendy: A Guide to Computer Learning in Your Child's School" Columbia University: Clearinghouse on Urban Education, April 2000.

No author listed: "Do Computers Make Kids Smarter? www.childrenssoftware.com/smart

No author listed: "Computers in Schools Are Putting Elementary Schoolchildren at Risk for Posture Problems, says Cornwell Study: Cornell University, Science Daily, Feb. 2, 1999

Computer education in schools plays important role in students career development. Computer with the internet is the most powerful device that students can use to learn new skills and more advanced version of current lessons. Schools are around the globe teaching student’s basics of computers and internet.

The uses of computers and internet are growing day by day at high speed. In almost all business, companies, schools using computers for various official operations. New tech tools are coming that helping students to learn better.

Computers help students to draw the creativity on the computer such as by using windows paint program. If students are taking Hindi Classes or poem writing then they can do it by typing in Hindi on computers. If students are taking Mathematical classes they can use Microsoft Excel application to solve and understand questions.

Parents want their kids to be intelligent and creative. They want to see high marks at the end of the year. They don’t want to see their kids don’t know about computers when other knows very well. They want to send their kids to schools where the high level of education and schools have enough IT infrastructures. That’s why especially private schools are leading in education and taking higher fees because of the importance of computers education. But not all parents are able to admit their students in costly schools.

Computers and the internet not only help students to explore creativity and imagination but also help to understand technologies. Students are future leaders for any nation. Current school students are future doctors, engineers, entrepreneurs. So, for the education development, it is really important to teach students in schools about computers, the internet and its benefits.

In schools, computer education is one the most important subject if you compare this is with current technological updates and demands of computer knowledge in various government and private sectors jobs. In schools it is really important for computer teachers to teach students about How to use computers, How to understand, the benefits of using a various application such as Microsoft word, excel, power point, Internet safety etc. I know most of the schools are trying to do this. But they are teaching students in schools about computers more theoretically than practical education.

As you know that many developed countries are providing computer applications and high-quality IT infrastructure for schools. The goal of technological education is to make students better thinkers, creative and confident. That helps them in higher education and in life. Education play very important role in our lifeand career development.

Just think that why developed countries such as America, Japan, China, Russia etc. leading the world in many things such as technologies, sports, employment, nuclear weapons etc.? Just think that why some countries are more powerful and dominating developing nations?

I think because they are providing high-quality technological tools, IT infrastructure in schools and colleges. They are paying the high salary for computer teachers. In Develop countries there is ease of doing business for new people. That’s why there are people who created Google, Facebook, Linked In, YouTube etc. This is because of the level of computer literacy in their society and in people. People in developed countries are taking initiative in almost everything.

If you compare this to India our people here are busier in talking about politics and corruption instead of doing something becoming better than yesterday. The level computer education in India is very low. You can check this: that even high percentage of MCA pass out students doesn’t know about how to create a simple website.

Maybe I am wrong, but the computer education we are providing in colleges and university level such as programming, designing, apps development etc. after graduation that knowledge in developed countries known by schools students. We Indians are creative, intelligent, hardworking, honest and innocent. We are happy in taking what is served to us by developed countries. We are not grouped because of selfish reasons that are why the level of new inventions is very low. We are implementing almost everything from other countries instead of creating something that is for India and developed in India.

Our computer teachers are on strikes most of the time. They are helpless because of policies produce to them by less computer literate people such as politicians. Computer education in schools provided by private companies, CEO and operators are known or linked up with politicians. There is no law and quality testing system of computer education in schools.

Our students in schools are still using Windows XP and CRT monitors. They are learning a more theoretical portion of the computer then practical knowledge of computers and internet. It is because of less  IT infrastructure. That’s why the level of computer education and creativity in students towards computers and technologies is very low as you compare it with other countries.

Why is this happening? The simple and most trending answer is corruption. But let it be!

What we need to do is to empower and educate our kids and students. We need to educate them to become more powerful, creative and confident that they can lead India. Let’s first MAKE INDIA then MAKE IN INDIA.

Our government is also trying to improve the education level but not fully focused towards the education and for the development of unemployed youth. Industrialisation is not only one formula or overseas investment we can believe that it can lower down the rate of unemployed educated youth of India. It can help but only for few people who are highly skilled and have enough money to invest to get a job. Yes, there are many skills India kind of programs run by the government of India but the level of education or supply of high-quality individual is lower than the demands.

I saw few videos and programs in which Delhi government is taking high imitative by improving the level of schools education in government schools. Maybe I am right that Delhi government is providing more budget to improve education infrastructure and level of quality education in schools. That’s great! Even I saw they are investigating schools and staff to check and remove the black holes in the education system. That’s the thing that other states of India or education authority should learn. Education is the only way that can remove corruption from our country.

So, that’s why it’s really important that our students don’t feel dominated because of lack of IT education.

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