Computers in the Classroom

For more than ten years I have been pushing for schools where I worked to have more computers in the classrooms. There are pros and cons:

  • some teachers fear being “replaced”,
  • some classrooms and furnishings just don’t fit a raft of desktops,
  • old desktops are noisey, gather dust and release heat,
  • some teachers don’t know how or the software they use does not help to manage students on computers,
  • they cost money, and
  • it’s more/different work or change to adopt computes in the classroom

Properly done, however, computers in the classroom can replace some paper, provide instant feedback to students, streamline the flow of information rather than being in stacks of paper, and they are the fastest and best way for students to create, find and present information, more like the way it is usually done in the real world.

I received an e-mail about a well-organized classroom. No doubt it has taken a lot of work to set this up and to create content for it off the web. That was done with that other OS. With GNU/Linux and a web connection, a lot of content could be generated/modified locally by students or imported from the web by the teacher after hours.

I recommended some changes that could be made:

  • Using GNU/Linux would reduce licensing costs and improve performance,
  • using thin clients would reduce the workload of staff while improving performance, and
  • mounting monitors and thin clients on the wall might make better use of space.

A lot of FLOSS has been written by teachers and used by teachers in just such situations. It works for us. I recommend using Moodle course management system to present lessons, content and links to content, to provide rapid feedback to students and to mange the flow of information for teaching and evaluation of teaching and learning. Combined with databases and web applications from a GNU/Linux server, this is a powerful system ready-made and free of cost. The teacher still has to add content. Some of that content can be produced by students and accumulated in wikis, databases and web-accessible file-storage. Over the years it can grow into a huge mass of useful information relevant to students and teachers. It’s all standards-compliant and works with any client so one does not have to re-install everything every time new machines are obtained.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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One Response to Computers in the Classroom

  1. Jake says:

    These facts are all solid, and the arguments are all well and good, but the hidden icebergs here are the microsoft-indoctrinated, card-carrying msce “IT guy” who gets to call the shots, and the microsoft agreements with schools which exist to put the kibosh on any idea of looking at alternatives. We also need to look at things politically, and come up with some solid strategies, because with the current rigged game, all our good social, fiscal and technical advantages will be ignored because the microsoft reps wined and dined key decision makers, and the mcses in charge of IT fight against any perceived threat to their fiefdom.

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