To start the most significant fact that should be stated is that the computer is a tool, and as with any educational tool, from books to crayons, it can be used to enhance the curriculum and promote learning, but it can also be misused and abused. In this essay, I will discuss the disadvantages of having computers 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 because not only is the research on the effectiveness of computers in the classroom scarce but the research that is there is often done by software companies and therefore may be biased. (Emmans 2001). Even though there is no clear-cut answer 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 is appealing to them. If nothing else, it at least holds the children’s attention. Though this may seem like a positive characteristic, consider this, just because a television show holds your attention, does it necessarily educate you? 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 at some, not all, software. As a teacher, one must not use time-fillers, cause a child can watch television or play on a computer at home, but as a teacher, we must educate, and if there is no educational value in the software, what good is it for a teacher?
On the defense for teachers, another reason for computers being a shortcoming is that sometimes the software is not obvious that it is non-educational. This can be a common mistake of any educator, being fooled that a product could be educational when it is merely entertainment software dressed up in an educational costume aimed at these gullible teachers.
According to Cindy C. Emmans (2001), a professor of Educational Technology at Central Washington University, on software in the classroom…
” Often feedback is the key to learning, and computers are appealing because this feedback can be immediate, which is of course a very effective learning tool. Unfortunately, this feedback is not often as effective as it might be, perhaps because it is not easy to return to the original question to try again, or the student must begin at the beginning to review the original content rather then backing up a step or two. In some cases, the feedback for the wrong answers is more appealing than that for the right answer, causing students to try and get the wrong answer simply for the entertainment value”.
Gerald W. Bracey sums it up adequately in a journal article called Principal by basically saying that the bells and whistles are all there, but the education is not, because it was not produced by someone who understands how children learn. (1996, p.6).
More arguments in the research area continued in September of 2000, the Alliance for Childhood published a statement against the use of computers in schools. More than 85 experts in various fields including psychiatry, education, and philosophy signed the statement in which calls for a suspension on the promoting introduction of computers into the nation’s elementary schools until there is a more careful assessment of their effect (Hafner, 2000). Another influence in opposition to computers in classrooms is that of Jane Healy, an educational psychologist and the author of “Failure to Connect,” a book criticizing educational applications of computers. Thomas Crampton interviewed Mrs. Healy and she declared that computers “can hurt children’s personal skills, work habits concentration, motivation, (and) the development of social skills” (IHT, October 2000, p. 19).
Another reason that computers in the classroom would prove to be a disadvantage is the availability of computers in the classroom to each individual student. It is rare to find a school that, in each classroom, has a computer supplied for each student. This then brings up the problem of scheduling 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 time in which could be used for more productive measures rather then scheduling computer time for each student. If this is the case, and only a specific amount of students can be on the computer at one time, then you are dividing your classroom, and not integrating it, as it should be. This causes many difficulties in teaching a whole group instruction, which leads to problems in skill development, since the attention of some students is lacking. (Tiene 2001).
On the Colorado state education web site (2003), I …