Technology Is A Tool, Not A Learning Outcome

“In the Croatian system the National Curriculum Framework integrates ICT in many subjects in addition to regular teaching ICT as a subject. As regards published recommendations regarding hardware and software to be used in Croatia there is a problem with hardware because schools use 6-7 year old desktop computers and the economic crisis makes replacement problematic. ICT teachers try to do their best for the students and they install newer technology for which they have the approval of the Ministry of Education. The ministry has an agreement for software licensing for all schools with Microsoft Croatia. Teachers are expected to – and want to – use ICT in class.”
See: Digital inclusion for teachers: ICT in Learning-Teaching Processes in Croatia – Unite IT: The e-Inclusion Network in Europe

An overview of how IT is used in Croatian schools and how Croatia compares to the rest of Europe reveals wide disparities. In the North of Europe, fewer than 10% of people don’t use the Internet. In the south, that number approaches 50%. There is a digital divide even within Europe.

The answer is not just to throw IT into schools. There’s never enough in the educational budget thanks to monopolists behind Wintel. The answer is to free people to use IT with open hardware and FLOSS (Free/Libre Open Source Software). Non-Free software creates digital divides by separating users into two groups, those who can afford to prop up monopolies and those who can’t. Education of youth is a priority for the whole of society, not just the wealthy classes. Schools should use FLOSS. I recommend Debian GNU/Linux because it includes an abundance of utilities as well as sophisticated tools to meet all the objectives of education not just making the rich richer.

Croatia is gaining in usage of GNU/Linux. That TFA was written shows the awareness of a lack of availability of IT. All that is needed to bridge the digital divide is for Croatian schools to catch up with and to exceed the rest of society in using GNU/Linux, the right way to do IT in education. Croatia needs to treble its IT in schools. That isn’t going to happen with Wintel. With FLOSS it is possible and can be done within a few years for no extra expenditure. With a little extra effort the change can be done in two years.

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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2 Responses to Technology Is A Tool, Not A Learning Outcome

  1. ram wrote, “I think primary schools, and even possibly middle and high schools, should not bother with ANY teaching of IT”.

    That’s silly on two fronts. Clearly GNU/Linux needs more young people capable of doing stuff with GNU/Linux. There’s huge demand at all levels. It builds local and global economies. The same benefits that the world sees in using */Linux applies to schools. Besides teaching some a lot about FLOSS, schools should be using FLOSS as much as they can rather than using dead trees. Teachers, real people, are the best tool to educate students and teachers should not waste any time taking walks to book shelves or libraries. That means using IT to create, find, store and present information of all kinds. Every student should know how to do those basic things today. Literacy doesn’t need to suffer when IT is inserted in the life-cycle of information. Books, papers, pens, and pencils are ancient tools but not essential to education. IT is much more productive when based on networks of PCs and servers. PCs and networks are the best tool for the job of education.

    When was the last time you wrote a snail-mail letter cursively, eh? I wrote one three years ago, I think. It was to a 90-year old gentleman relative and hero who has never owned a PC nor a smartphone. There may be a minority of non-PC people in the generation that follows him but there will be very few in the generation now happening. If literacy has declined it’s not because of IT but a decreasing portion of teachers who are barely digitally literate themselves. Those are now approaching retirement. The next generation of teachers will be much more capable of bridging the digital divide in education.

  2. ram says:

    Personally, I think primary schools, and even possibly middle and high schools, should not bother with ANY teaching of IT (shock, horror !!!). They should perhaps concentrate on language skills and mathematics (the “three R’s” as they say in America). In Australia, where schools “teach” everything but the basics, the graduates know all about sports, theology, and other politically correct topics. Very few, however, can write a cogent paragraph, even in their native language. 🙁

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