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Limits to Computers December 1, 2005

Posted by Michael McVey in Online Tools.

TeachersTalk In a special report in THE Journal I read the following statement from a fourth-grade teacher in Pennsylvania, “You can’t really do anything with four or five computers in your classroom.? It turns out he would prefer multiple computer carts with wireless computers for all his students. Sure. Who wouldn’t?

Sorry, but if all you have is four computers you are still better off than many teachers in the world are. There is much you should be doing but if you say you can do nothing then you simply are not trying. I will set this question up to my students next semester. I am willing to bet they will be able to come up with dozens of suggestions for the one (or few) computer classroom.

The data that comes out of these surveys is only as good as the questions that are asked. Why do only 54 percent of teachers say they use computers in their daily curriculum? Perhaps this number is because 90 percent of them use it in their weekly curriculum. Perhaps there is no real need to have it used as a part of their day-to-day curriculum. Face to face discussions, sketching, building, painting, acting, running, debating, and the myriad of other non-computer related activities still abound in schools. I think there might be a logical limit to how much we can expect computers to contribute to schooling. 

I came across the term treeware on a Canadian blog today. You have hardware, software, and many kinds of software available online such as freeware and shareware, but treeware is the term you use for, wait for it, newspaper. Anything from the tree in the form of paper.

But, of course, that line between what is hard and available in the real world, like paper, and what is available only in a virtual world is blurring. On NPR yesterday (www.npr.org) was a piece about game players who are now trading real money, dollars, on eBay for virtual gold pieces they can use to buy virtual tools or weapons. There is, apparently, brisk trade in this exchange of real for virtual money. Listen to the whole story on National Public Radio.



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