Poor use of computers is hurting students

German study finds use of PCs in early grades hurts scores. Technophobic adults assume any computer time is good and that kids know more than teachers about the digital domain.
Written by ZDNET Editors, Contributor
The conventional wisdom is that computers are a good thing in education. But how young is too young for computers? A large German study recently found that computers are overused in early grades, and math and reading skills are falling as a result. Even in higher grades computers in school are poorly used. In an opinion piece in Design Nine, Dr. Andrew Michael Cohill, an author and information and telecommunications architect with an educational background in architecture, ergonomics, and computer science, says he isn't entirely surprised by the study's findings.

Teachers often assume that any time on the computer is good time, says Cohill.


"There is this almost religious assumption that kids can use computers and technology better than the adults supervising them. This is utter nonsense. They are kids, and they need guidance and direction in their work activities," said Cohill.



"Kids may be more facile manipulating the interface, but it does not mean they have learned anything meaningful, like how to add, subtract, or write a grammatically correct sentence. It also does not mean they know how computers and the internet works, although I run into adults all the time who also make this grossly incorrect assumption."


Cohill goes on to say that schools lack a meaningful definition for "technological competency." Just because a student knows how to use PowerPoint, doesn't mean he or she can get up and give an informed presentation.

Training for teachers is often lacking, as well as the right equipment and support. Parents often make the mistake judging a school by how many computers it has, Cohill says, when they should be looking out for proper instruction.

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