Guide to Computers in Education



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Dave Moursund Parents’ Guide to Computers in Education

Parents’ Guide to Computers in Education

Dave Moursund

Access this book at: http://uoregon.edu/~moursund/Books/Parents/Parents-Guide.html

Date: 10/10/06. Small correction made 3/8/07.

"It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change." (Charles Darwin)

"Mankind owes to the child the best it has to give." (United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child, 1959)

Brief Summary

This short book is for parents who want their preschool and school age children to get a good, modern education. While the main focus is on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) aspects of education, many other educational topics are briefly covered.

Parents and other caregivers play a huge role in the informal and formal education of their children. Working alone and in cooperation with teachers, you (a parent, grandparent, etc.) can help your children get a much better education than they will receive without your explicit help.

This is especially true in the area of computers and other ICT. The average child spends more hours per week playing and working with multimedia (games, television, music players, cell phones, and so on) than in school. This situation presents you and your children with a major opportunity to improve their informal and formal education.

In addition, our school systems have been slow to integrate ICT into the everyday curriculum. The school-based education of many children is weak because it does not help students to take advantage of the capabilities of ICT as an aid to solving complex problems and accomplishing complex tasks. You, working with your children and their schools, can help to change this situation.

In brief summary, you can help your children to get a better education than they are currently getting. This will give them a competitive advantage throughout their lives!



Copying Rights

This book is Copyright © David Moursund 2006. However, it can be accessed free on the Web in both PDF and Microsoft Word formats. This is done under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License. More detail is available at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/.

These copying rights allow you, teachers, and others to make copies of all or parts of these materials for non-commercial purposes. You can share these materials with others you feel will benefit from using them.

About Dave Moursund, the Author

"Before you become too entranced with gorgeous gadgets and mesmerizing video displays, let me remind you that information is not knowledge, knowledge is not wisdom, and wisdom is not foresight. Each grows out of the other, and we need them all." (Arthur C. Clark)

"The wisest mind has something yet to learn." George Santayana)

Dave Moursund

Email: moursund@uoregon.edu

Web: http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~moursund/dave/index.htm
• Doctorate in mathematics (numerical analysis) from University of Wisconsin-Madison.

• Assistant Professor and then Associate Professor, Department of Mathematics and Computing Center (School of Engineering), Michigan State University.

• Associate Professor, Department of Mathematics and Computing Center, University of Oregon.

• Associate and then Full Professor, Department of Computer Science, University of Oregon.

• Served six years as the first Head of the Computer Science Department at the University of Oregon.

• Full Professor in the College of Education at the UO for more than 20 years.

• In 1974, started the publication that eventually became Learning and Leading with Technology, the flagship publication of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE).

• In 1979, founded the International Society for Technology in Education ). Headed this organization for 19 years.

• Author or co-author of about 40 books and several hundred articles in the field of computers in education.

• Presented about 200 workshops on various topics in the field of computers in education.

• Served as a major professor for about 50 doctoral students (six in math, the rest in education). Served on the doctoral committees of about 25 other students.

• For more information about Dave Moursund and for free online, no cost access to 20 of his books and a number of articles, go to http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~moursund/dave/.

Table of Contents


Title Page, Brief Summary, & Copying Rights 1

About Dave Moursund, the Author 2

Table of Contents 3

Part 1: Your Childís Safety is Job #1 4

Preface and Brief Overview 4

Chapter 1: Threats and Opportunities 7

Part 2: General Information for All Readers 16

Chapter 2: The Three Rís and ICT 18

Chapter 3: Goals of Education 22

Chapter 4: The Internet 26

Chapter 5: Expertise in a Discipline 30

Chapter 6: Problem Solving in Different Disciplines 34

Chapter 7: A Rapid Pace of Change 38

Chapter 8: Cognitive Developmental Scales 42



Part 3: Brain and Mind Science 46

Chapter 9: Information and Problem Overload 47

Chapter 10: Human Intelligence 51

Chapter 11: Artificial Intelligence 55

Chapter 12: Science of Teaching and Learning 59

Chapter 13: Computer-Assisted Learning & Distance Education 63



Part 4: Miscellaneous Other Topics 68

Chapter 14: Home Schooling and Schooling at Home 69

Chapter 15: Children with Special Needs 73

Chapter 16: Talented and Gifted Education 77

Chapter 17: ICT-Assisted Project-Based Learning 81

Chapter 18: Games and Education 85

Chapter 19: A Few Other Important Topics 89

Appendix 1: Some Good (Free) Web-based Resources 93

References 98

Index 101



Part 1: Your Child’s Safety is Job #1

Information and communication technology (ICT) provides all of us with new opportunities and threats. This book is for parents who want to help improve the quality of education that their children are receiving. The overall focus is on helping your children gain appropriate ICT knowledge and skills so they can take advantage of the opportunities that ICT provides.

However, ICT poses many threats—especially to children. Parents, our communities, and our schools can work together to minimize these threats.

Part 1 of this book consists of the preface and first chapter. The preface provides a quick overview of the book. Chapter 1 summarizes some key ideas about the threats and opportunities inherent to ICT.

Preface and Brief Overview

"Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." (Chinese proverb)

"Fortune favors the prepared mind." (Louis Pasteur)

Education systems in the United States and throughout the world are designed to prepare students for responsible and productive adulthood. Some students get much better educations than other students. A better education can give a person a competitive advantage at work, at home, at play, and as a responsible and productive adult.

In the United States and in most educational systems throughout the world, we are not doing nearly as well as we could and should at preparing students for the current and future highly computerized world. I view this as a sad situation—our educational systems are not adequately preparing students for responsible and productive adulthood in an Information Age world.

ICT includes computers, but it also includes the full range of tools and toys such as cell telephones, digital still and video cameras, digital music and video storage and playback devices, video games, computer-assisted instruction, the Internet and the Web, calculators and other handheld computing devices, GPS, and so on. As you know, ICT is changing at a rapid pace. It is clear that this high pace of change will continue far into the future.



Our Educational System is Slow to Change

As you know, school systems are slow to change. Most schools are quite conservative. The teachers teach the way they were taught. New ideas based on changes in technology and educational research are slow to be incorporated into the classroom. For the most part, this does not disturb teachers or parents. Most tend to think about schools in terms of, “It was good enough for me, and it is good enough for my children.”

One brief example shows how wrong that thinking is. The elementary and secondary schools you attended probably had a library of perhaps 5,000 to 10,000 books. Many were terribly out of date. The teaching was mainly based on a small number of carefully selected textbooks, with new adoptions occurring on a six-year cycle.

The World Wide Web did not exist when you were a child. Now, it is by far the world’s largest library and it continues to grow quite rapidly. Its current contents are equivalent to hundreds of millions of books. It is unlike any library that existed in “the good old days.” It is an interactive, multimedia library, making use of audio and video as well as text.

In addition to this, the library provides access to many computer programs that can solve problems and accomplish tasks for you. That is, the library is not static. It provides powerful interactive aids to solving problems and accomplishing tasks.

The library also contains a wide variety of aids to learning. Interactive computer-assisted instruction and distance learning materials are available on a wide range of topics. Children need to be learning to learn in such environments, both for immediate use and because they are powerful aids to lifelong learning.

It is true that students in our schools are gaining some knowledge about the Web and some modest skills in using the Web in the academic areas they are studying. However, for the most part this instruction about and using the Web is designed to preserve the type of education you received as a child. It is not being used to substantially change and improve our overall educational system.

Students are not learning to learn in an interactive hypermedia environment. For example, reading and writing in an interactive non-linear multimedia environment is far different than reading and writing in a linear text-based environment. Students are not learning to take increasing responsibility for their own learning. They are not learning to become lifelong learners, whose education will continue at a high pace throughout their lives.



About This Book

The goal of this book is to help you to help your children get a better education—one that better prepares them for life in our rapidly changing Information Age society. This book contains a number of explicit suggestions that may be applicable to your child or children.

This book is divided into five main sections.

Part 1 includes the preface you are now reading and a chapter discussing threats and opportunities. Regardless of anything else you do in terms of the ICT education of your children, you should help to protect your children from major dangers inherent to ICT. If you aren’t worried, you probably should be. The following is quoted from an August 9, 2006 issue of Yahoo News:

But the study found that aggressive solicitations—the ones involving requests for contact by mail, by phone or in person—remained steady compared with a similar study five years earlier. And the report found growth in online harassment and unwanted exposure to pornography.

The report defines solicitation broadly as any request to engage in sexual activities or sexual talk or give personal sexual information—as long as it was unwanted or came from an adult. Not all requests were deemed by the youth as distressing.

In the latest study of online youths ages 10 to 17, conducted from March to June 2005 as MySpace began its rapid ascent, 13 percent of respondents reported a sexual solicitation, compared with 19 percent in a 1999-2000 survey. In both studies, about 4 percent reported aggressive solicitations.



Part 2 provides general background for all readers. There is a tremendous amount of accumulated research and practitioner knowledge about how to educate children. Indeed, there is so much accumulated knowledge that it overwhelms our educational system. The system tries to be all things to all people and has difficulty individualizing to individual children. As a parent, you can provide individual educational help and guidance to your children. This can make a huge difference in the quality of education that your children receive.

Part 3 covers Brain and Mind Science, a field that is making many contributions to the research and practice in education. Researchers now have tools and techniques to peer inside a person’s mind as the person learns and makes use of learning. This new research builds upon many decades of good work by educational researchers.

Part 4 contains a miscellaneous variety of topics. Some may be of particular interest to you, and others may not. Pick and choose—these topics can be read in any order.

The remainder of the book contains a set of references, an appendix on good (free) sources of information relevant to the topics of the book, and an index. Most of the references are to Web-based materials, and provide a good starting point for further exploration of the topics. All of the information sources mentioned in the appendix are available on the Web.

Each chapter begins with one or more quotations. To see my collection of quotations, go to http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~moursund/dave/quotations.htm.

Chapter 1: Threats and Opportunities

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be the one who can not read and write, but the one who can not learn, unlearn, and relearn.” (Alvin Toffler)

"The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled." (Plutarch)

Computer technology is a powerful change agent. It provides possible advantages to many people and nations. However, it provides possible disadvantages and threats to other people and nations.

Much of the content of this book focuses on opportunities, and what you, our schools, and our local communities can do to help children gain an education that helps prepare them to benefit from these opportunities.

This first chapter focuses on the opposite extreme. It looks specifically at some of the threats that accompany ICT and its rapid proliferation throughout the world. As a parent, one of your prime concerns is the safety and well being of your children. This is also a prime concern of schools and government.



Parent Opinions

As I talked with parents and others about the possible content of this book, two general themes arose:

1. Help parents and children learn about the dangers inherent to the Internet and other aspects of ICT. What are the threats, and what can one do to deal with these threats? Make sure they learn about viruses and spam.

2. Help parents guide their children in becoming competent and responsibly users of ICT. What are the opportunities, and what can one do to take advantage of these opportunities? How can parents help their children’s schools to provide their children with an up to date education that appropriately reflect the rapidly increasing availability and uses of ICT.

While the majority of the book focuses on the second topic, this first chapter addresses the dangers and threats. The following quote may help to increase your awareness of online connectivity threats (Olsen, 2006):

According to a new study from research firm Harris Interactive, roughly a third of parents said they don't feel confident about teaching kids how to use the Internet safely and responsibly. Nevertheless, as many as 94 percent of parents have turned to Web content filters, monitoring software or advice from an adult friend to help shield their kids from harm on the Net

Kids are in the spotlight because they're spending more and more time online—at home, in schools and at the homes of friends. According to CIC, high school kids spend as much as 5.1 hours a day online when they're out of school, middle school children spend 4.9 hours daily and elementary school children spend 3.8 hours a day. Experts say kids can be particularly vulnerable to predators when divulging personal information on blogs, social networks or to marketers. [Boldface added for emphasis.]



Such online threats are real, and they receive a lot of media coverage. Here is another example:

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has imposed a $1 million fine on social networking site Xanga for violations of the 1998 Child Online Protection Act (COPA). The FTC contended that Xanga allowed users whose self-reported birthdays indicated they were less than 13 years old to create accounts. COPA forbids any company from collecting personal information from users under the age of 13 without parental notification and consent. Xanga reportedly had allowed 1.7 million users to register with birthdays indicating they were under 13. Although Xanga CEO John Hiler suggested that many of those 1.7 million birthdays might be from users older than 13 who used birthdays of pets, or example, the company said it would implement changes geared toward child safety. Previously, the largest fine imposed under COPA was $400,000. In that case, UMG Recordings was fined for similarly collecting personal information from users under 13.
CNET, 8 September 2006
http://news.com.com/2100-1030_3-6113626.html.

Correction added 3/8/07. The article contains an error. It should be referring to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

U.S. News and World report contains an excellent article about MySpace (Andrews, 2006). Quoting from a Web-accessible copy of this article:

It's the coolest hangout space for teens-but parents might be surprised at what their kids do there. Here's how to help keep them safe online.

Among the many millions of people visiting these sites, some, indeed, are sexual predators, and there have been some highly publicized accounts of teenagers who've been lured into offline meetings at which they've been assaulted. Parents, understandably, are traumatized by such stories. By focusing so intently on protecting their kids from stalkers, however, parents have overlooked other less sensational but important aspects of their kids' online experiences. How teens interact with their peers in cyberspace, for example, and how they present themselves through images and words may not be life-or-death decisions, but they can have a serious impact on their lives offline. As the new school year begins, parents have an opportunity to take an interest and get involved in their kids' online experiences, if they haven't done so already.



To Learn or not to Learn: The Threats of an Inadequate Education

You need to be aware, however, that there are other very serious threats that receive much less media attention. ICT provides general-purpose aids to problem solving and communication. In that regard, ICT is somewhat similar to reading, writing, arithmetic, speaking, and listening. That is, ICT can be thought of as a powerful extension to the basics that schools have stressed for hundreds of years.

Today’s children face the threat that they will receive a totally inadequate ICT education. Sure, they will learn some ICT on their own.

Here is a snide question that you can ignore if you like. How many of today’s adults learned to program a VCR on their own? The point to the question is that many people find it difficult to learn complex aspects of ICT on their own.

However, ICT is a broad and deep field, affecting every discipline students are currently studying in school. Most students are getting only a superficial understanding of roles of ICT in representing and solving the types of problems they study in school. They are not learning how ICT is drastically changing the jobs of the future and the worldwide competition for gainful employment.

You should not be mislead by your children’s ability to learn to play computer games, to do instant messaging on a cell phone or computer, to download music, and so on. It is wonderful that children easily learn such ICT from each other. However, such ICT knowledge and skills are a far cry from those needed to routinely and confidently use ICT to help solve the types of problems and accomplish the types of tasks that are the core focus in our educational system.

You understand that there are many different subject areas, such as reading, writing, math, science, and social science. Starting more than 50 years ago, a new subject began to come into our colleges and universities. It was called computer science, or computer and information science. By the early 1960s, this subject made its way into high schools and by the 1970s, it was common to find some instruction in the computer programming languages BASIC or Logo in elementary schools.

Computer programming is only part of the field of computer and information science, but it is a central and unifying part. Nowadays, most children never get an opportunity to learn anything about computer programming. Their knowledge of computer science comes almost entirely from learning how to make use of a variety of computer tools and toys. They are missing out on learning the fundamentals of computer and information science. They are not able to bring an understanding of computational thinking to the subjects they study in school. Quoting from Jeannette Wing (2006), a highly respected computer scientist:



Computational thinking builds on the power and limits of computing processes, whether they are executed by a human or by a machine. Computational methods and models give us the courage to solve problems and design systems that no one of us would be capable of tackling alone.



Computational thinking is a fundamental skill for everybody, not just for computer scientists. To reading, writing, and arithmetic, we should add computational thinking to every child’s analytical ability. [Bold added for emphasis.]



The Threats of Entertainment

A later chapter of this book addresses some beneficial roles of games in education. Here, I address some of the threats.

It wasn’t too many years ago that it was standard to find newspaper and magazine articles discussing how much time children were spending watching television. On average, children were spending more time per year watching television than they were in attending school.

Television is attention grabbing and attention holding. Many of our children and many of us find it easy to “veg” in front of a television set, letting the passive entertainment flow in.

Electronic games can be thought of as an extension of television. Think of interactive television in which you, the viewer, play an active role. You may be interacting with characters generated by the game and with characters that are being run by people from throughout the world. There may be a simple plot line, or there may be a complex plot line that continues over a long period of time. The latter situation is much like the soaps and other long running TV series.

The computer games get better year after year, as huge amounts of money are spent on developing games that are increasingly attention grabbing and attention holding. The steadily increasing computer power makes it possible to develop games that are more realistic and interactive.

Even before computers, many people were addicted to various games, such as solitaire card games and poker. Now, we have games that are far more addictive. What is happening for many children is a shift from watching TV to playing electronic games. The electronic games are more “fun” than TV. The total time children spend watching TV and playing electronic games has increased as a result. On average, it significantly exceed time spent in school.

During this rather passive entertainment time, children are not developing the kinds of social skills that come from direct interaction with other children and adults. They are not physically active like they would be in running and chasing, and playing sports. They are not mentally engaged in the way that child are who are reading and interacting with other aspects of the non-gaming world.

My message to you, a parent, is simple. You should severely restrict the amount of time your children spend watching television and playing electronic games. There are other important things in life besides being entertained by TV and such games.

Advergaming

Probably you are familiar with television programs called infomercials that are essentially just long ads. Quoting from the Wikipedia:

Infomercials are television commercials that run as long as a typical television program (roughly 28 minutes, 30 seconds). Infomercials, also known as paid programming (or teleshopping in Europe), are normally shown outside of peak hours, such as late at night or early in the morning. … As in any other form of advertisement, the content is a commercial message designed to represent the viewpoints and to serve the interest of the sponsor. Infomercials are often made to closely resemble actual television programming, usually talk shows, with minimal acknowledgement that the program is actually an advertisement.

Now, people are developing electronic games that are infomercials. These advergames are designed to have all of the characteristics of pure entertainment games, such as being attention grabbing and attention holding. However, the games contain built-in advertising messages. The game may be designed to convince you that you want to join the army and “Be all that you can be.” The game may be designed to indoctrinate you into a particular way of thinking about or viewing the world. The game may be designed to sell specific products. In any case, this is a powerful and growing form of advertising.



Computer Viruses, Worms, Etc.

There are a number of people who deliberately set out to destroy or damage the software and files on other people’s computers and other computing devices. They develop computer programs that are specifically designed to cause damage. These programs go by a variety of manes such as virus, worm, and Trojan horse. Quoting from the Wikipedia:

In computer security, a computer virus is a self-replicating computer program that spreads by inserting copies of itself into other executable code or documents. A computer virus behaves in a way similar to a biological virus, which spreads by inserting itself into living cells. Extending the analogy, the insertion of a virus into the program is termed as an "infection", and the infected file, or executable code that is not part of a file, is called a "host". Viruses are one of the several types of malicious software or malware. In common parlance, the term virus is often extended to refer to worms, Trojan horses and other sorts of malware; viruses in the narrow sense of the word are less common than they used to be, compared to other forms of malware.

There are many ways that malware can get into your computer or handheld computing device. For example, virus or other malware may be attached to an email message you receive. Open the attachment, and the malware enters you computer system. This email virus may locate your email address book and email itself to all of the people in your email address book. Such an email virus can quickly spread throughout the world.

Another common means is through software that a person shares with you or that you download from the Web. When a friend shares software with you, you have no good way of knowing if it contains malware. When you download “free” software from the Web, you may be downloading software that contains malware. Recently, the search engine Google has added features to try to determine if a Website contains malware. When a person using Google asks to download from a site that Google thinks may contain malware, Google provides a warning message.

Every user of computers and handheld computing devices that connect to the Internet should be making use of filtering software designed to help catch malware. Nowadays, the cost of such filtering software should be considered as an ordinary part of the cost of making use of the Internet. In addition, all Internet users (which includes all Web users) should be alert for obvious attacks against their computer systems. For example, when you receive email from some person or address that is not familiar to you, and the email contains attachments, there is a good possibility that this is an email virus. Delete the email—do not open the attachments.



Telecommuting, Out Sourcing, and Off Shoring

ICT makes it possible for people to work from home. Many people who work from home consider this as a great opportunity.

However, an extension of the ideas of telecommuting allow people to serve customers who are located thousands of miles away—even in different countries. Thus, workers in India can provide technical help and make sales via computer and telephone connectivity to customers in the United States. Accountants in China can prepare income tax returns customers in the U.S. This practice is sometimes called off shoring.

Such inexpensive long distance communication fit nicely with good transportation systems. The combination provides opportunities for skilled workers in low wage countries or areas in a country to compete for higher wage jobs located elsewhere. The combination also can increase the profit of a company that makes effective use of lower wage employees. At the same time, these opportunities are threats to the jobs of higher wage employees.

In addition, the transportation and ICT system make it possible for physical goods to be manufactures in low wage parts of a country or the world, and sold to customers throughout the world. This is often called out sourcing. Customers gain an advantage of lower costs, but manufacturing workers in higher wage areas face the threat of losing their jobs.

In summary, improvements in ICT and transportation help to create worldwide competition for certain types of jobs. The chances are that the future will bring move of this type of competition throughout the world.



Electronic Spam

Quoting from the Wikipedia page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spam_%28electronic%29:

Spamming is the abuse of electronic messaging systems to send unsolicited, bulk messages. While the most widely recognized form of spam is e-mail spam, the term is applied to similar abuses in other media: instant messaging spam, Usenet newsgroup spam, Web search engine spam, spam in blogs, and mobile phone messaging spam.

Electronic spam is a threat to all people who make use of email and various other types of Internet-facilitated communication. The spam messages may contain viruses, attempt to sell you products and services you are not interested in, and expose you to pornographic language and materials. For more detail, see the Wikipedia discussion of malware at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malware.

Essentially every day I receive a bunch of email messages designed to sell me a wide variety of different products I am not interested in and have not requested information about. I receive my incoming mail through a service provided by the University of Oregon. In addition, I use software designed to check for various types of spam. Still, in a typical day I spend a few minutes separating out and deleting spam.

Many ads I don’t want to see pop up as I browse various Websites while I am writing a scholarly book or article. In addition, the smallest typo when entering a Web address may take me to a site that I would rather not visit—and that I would prefer my grandchildren not visit!

There is an ongoing battle between developers of filtering software and people working to circumvent filtering software. The use of such filtering software has become common in schools and in many public libraries. Similarly, there is an ongoing battle between developers of anti virus software, and developers of software viruses. This situation has reached a stage that most people find it highly beneficial to have virus protection software on their computers.

Thieves and Predators

Many people make use of the Internet and other ICT capabilities for predatorily, unethical, and illegal activities. Many different activities fall into these categories. Some receive much more attention than others. For example, it seems like it is becoming increasingly common for “thieves” to steal computer files containing personal information about a lot of people. This information can be quite useful in identity theft.

The scam email I receive frequently includes a bogus message from a bank or credit union telling me that my account is under attack or something has gone wrong with it, and I can correct the matter by providing them with various pieces of information. These are blatant attempts to gain information needed for identity theft. Surely you should learn to recognize such blatant attempts at thievery and teach your children about the.

The social networking Websites, chat rooms, and other two-way Internet-based communication systems have become a vehicle for predators. I assume that as a parent, you teach your children about dangers they might face in the community and going to and from places such as school. You teach them appropriate levels of caution about accepting rides from strangers, not admitting strangers into their homes, and so on. ICT forces you to carry this education further. You must educate your children about the types of predation that can occur through use of the Internet. For some more suggestions, see the work of Nancy Willard (2006).



ICT provides Children with “Bad” Opportunities

ICT has opened a number of opportunities for children to unethical and illegal activities. For example, consider intellectual property rights that can be stored transported, and used electronically. Piracy of music and video is now commonplace. Many children feel it is perfectly acceptable to share commercial software, music, and video with their friends. Parents play a significant role in helping their children what is ethically, morally, and legally correct.

ICT makes it much easier to plagiarize. This problem has reached a level so that software is now available that teachers can use to try to determine if a paper turned in by a student contains plagiarized content. A variation on this problem is that there are a number of companies that offer term papers for sale. Many students now buy complete papers from various Web-based sources, and turn them in as their own work.

Some students engage in spamming, harassing, and cyber bullying activities. Some students maliciously damage or destroy other’s electronic files. Some get into teacher’s school’s files and change records, such as grades.

Many parents are unhappy if their young children access publications such as Playboy Magazine and Playgirl Magazine. From parent’s point of view, this may be considered immoral activity. Nowadays, children can readily access pornographic Websites that are far worse. It is much easier to keep inappropriate hard magazines and books out of the hands of your children than to keep them from accessing similar or worse materials on the Web.

Acceptable Use Policies

All schools that have computers and Internet access face the problems of ICT safety and the need for their students to have appropriate ICT behavior while in school. The three most used approaches are:

1. Use of filtering software and other approaches to keep students from accessing inappropriate Websites, chat rooms, social networking sites, and so on.

2. An acceptable use policy (AUP) that provides details of acceptable and inappropriate uses of ICT in school. Education of students, parents, and teachers in this policy is essential. Both students and teachers need to know how to handle situations when they inadvertently encounter inappropriate materials on the Web.

3. Careful monitoring of student ICT use in school.

4. Avoiding publication of information predators might use to identify and communicate with specific students.



The Literature Giving Arguments Against use of Computers in Schools

There are a substantial number of well-written books and articles that point out dangers of use of computers in education. Over the years, I have read a great many of these resources, and I have a great deal of respect for many of the authors. The following Website contains some brief information about some of these resources:

Moursund, David (n.d.). Arguments against use of computers in education. Retrieved 9/13/06: http://otec.uoregon.edu/arguments_against.htm.

As an example, you might want to look at the Website of the Alliance for Childhood (http://www.allianceforchildhood.net/index.htm). Quoting from their Website:

Computers are reshaping children's lives at home and at school, in profound and unexpected ways. Common sense suggests that we consider the potential harm, as well as the promised benefits, of this change.

The Alliance for Childhood and dozens of leading health, education and child development experts are challenging the increasing emphasis on computers in early childhood and elementary schools. Please visit the Projects/Computers section of this web site to learn more about the Alliance computer project and to read our report, Fool's Gold: A Critical Look at Computers in Childhood.

You will also want to read Children and Computers: A Call to Action, a position statement signed by dozens of experts in child development, education, health, and technology.

A common argument against use of computers in schools is that they are not being used effectively and the money could better be used for other purposes. An article by Justin Appel (2006) includes this argument as it discusses the growth in the number of schools providing one computer for each student. Quoting from the article:

According to figures provided by the Bellevue, Wash.-based Anywhere Anytime Learning Foundation, the number of North American students enrolled in one-to-one programs is growing annually at 15 percent and now totals more than 500,000.

But even as these numbers drive higher, critics say the true costs of a comprehensive laptop program—from training staff, to drafting new curriculum, to installing wireless networks in schools—are just now becoming apparent.

"As educational dollars have grown more scarce, those extra costs give pause to more people," noted Larry Cuban, professor emeritus of education at Stanford University.

Working With Your Children and Their Schools

To the extent possible, you want to provide your children with a safe, secure home and community. Parents have faced this challenge for tens of thousands of years. The development of formal schools about 5,000 years ago added a new dimension to the problem—the need for schools to be safe places. ICT has added to the challenge, both in homes and throughout the community, including in schools.

Schools are meeting this challenge by careful supervision of students, use of filtering software, acceptable use policies, and education of both teachers and students. Many schools restrict the software available to students on the school computers, and only allow students to access Websites that are considered appropriate. For example, schools may prohibit use of their ICT facilities for accessing known Social Networking sites, pornographic sites, racial hatred sites, and so on.

Acceptable use policies usually include a strong stress on intellectual property rights—to not maliciously damage or steal software, music, videos, and other electronic documents. They also stress the need to not plagiarize the works of others, and to provide proper attributions when legally copying or using pieces of other’s works.

Parents are well advised to develop an acceptable use policy for ICT use at home and other places outside of school. A child’s home AUP should apply to the child in other homes and places he or she visits in the community. This requires that parents monitor their children’s use of ICT and educate them in the rules.

Television, electronic games, and telephones (including cell telephones) all should be addressed in a home AUP. How many hours a day do you want your children to spend watching television, playing electronic games, instant messaging via computer or telephone, and chatting via computer or telephone? Each of these activities has some addictive-like qualities. Many children retreat into these activities, cutting themselves off from other very important physical and mental developmental activities.

Without such a strong and well-enforced home ACU policy, students face the dilemma of school policies that are considerably different than home and community policies. Parents face the likelihood that their children will routinely engage in ICT behavior that may be risky, unethical, or illegal.

Another important thing that parents can do is to play an active role in communicating with their children about the roles of a good education in being prepared for the world they will face as adults. There will be increasing worldwide competition for jobs. There will be increasing demand for the services of people who can solve problems and accomplish challenging tasks that require good thinking skills, a good education, and use of ICT.


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