addresses the fact that schools do not have enough technology
in the classrooms.
Statistics show that certain students are at a greater risk
of having less technology in
their classrooms. Many schools that have a majority of
poor students or minorities
at their schools are at a greater risk. There are many
reasons for having computers in schools. The benefits
of computers are very great. Computers in the schools
allow the students to get a head start in a world where technology
is becoming critical. When the computers do get in the
classroom, it is just as important to have teachers there that
can teach the students about the computers. While there
are many problems in the school system with computers, a lot
is being done to improve the situation. This paper assesses
the problems in the schools systems and then tells what is being
done about it.
our children for a lifetime of computer use is now just as essential
as teaching them to read and write and do math” (President Clinton’s
Call to Action for American Education in the 21st Century, 1997).
The United States is becoming more technology oriented every
day. While the world is moving ahead in technology, the
school system is lagging behind in teaching about it.
Many students are not being adequately prepared for a future
in which computers and the Internet will be part of every job.
Statistics show that a number of schools have no access to computers
and/or the Internet. The students that are most at risk
are the economically deprived and the minority school districts.
Teachers are not being trained well enough so that they can
help students become more familiar with the Internet.
Several initiatives have been started to try to get the students
up to standard so that they are able to use the computer and
the Internet to its fullest ability.
One of the
most common misconceptions about schools is that everyone is
hooked up to the Internet or at least have computers that are
available for the students to use. In a world where the
Internet is becoming more common and knowledge about a computer
is a must, many schools have yet to provide their students with
this type of access. There are currently 4.4 million computers
in the classroom. This sounds like a lot of computers,
but that still means that with the number of students attending
schools that is about 10 students per computer. This number
is a great advancement from the 125 students per computer in
1984. Look at Figure 2 for instance. The number
of students per computer greatly decreases in a short span of
12 years. It is apparent that the school systems are realizing
how valuable computers are to the education of their children.
This is a very positive thing but more definitely needs to be
As the students
rise from elementary to junior high then to high school the
ratio of students to computers does get lower. The students
in the elementary schools are not getting as much time with
the computer, which is when they are most likely to learn the
most. The number of schools that have computers and Internet
access is 64 percent. The actual number of classrooms
and computer labs that have Internet access is a low 14 percent.
Many schools give the administration access to the Internet
but have yet to connect the students to the Internet.
As of 1997 only four states, Delaware, Hawaii, New Mexico, and
South Carolina, had 100 percent of their school system connected
to the Internet (QED, 1997).
The Good of Having Computers in Schools
fact is that this paper could not have been written in its present
form without a computer and the Internet. Word processing
and spreadsheet capacity provided the necessary tools, and valuable
resources were found on the Internet… This is the way
the world is working now, and it is more efficient than it was
in the days of typewriters.” (Lynn Hammond, Computers in Our
Schools – Challenges and Solutions) The fact is that everyone
should be using the computer. Think of the day when everyone
had to go to the library and look through the card catalog to
find information on a topic to be researched. Then you
went through the trouble of locating the book just to find out
that someone else has already checked out that particular book.
Then you had to go to a different library and repeat the same
access to the Internet and computers, students are able to find
information about any topic that they are researching in a phenomenally
shorter time frame. The Internet provides a wealth of
information that students would find difficult to encounter
anywhere else. Students not only find information, but
also communicate with other students around the world and learn
about them and their way of life. It will create a bridge
between students that live next door to each other and students
that live around the world from one another. “The student
in Chicago learn that no, teenagers in Senegal don’t live in
mud huts and don’t eat leaves, and the student in Senegal learns
that kids in Chicago don’t have schools full of gangsters and
guns.” (Linda McGinnis, Wiring a Global Playground)
the Internet is not set up in the classroom, the students will
benefit from basic word processing. It will allow the
student to write papers with greater ease than before.
They will find it easier to use and will be more likely to produce
a better product because of this. In “Computers in our Schools-
Challenges and Solutions”, Lynn Hammond states that computers
will make learning easier by “removing the grunt work from the
tasks of learning” which will enable the writer to concentrate
more on their ideas.
Kids at Risk of Having No Computers in
At risk students
are those that will not get the proper education about computers
and the chance to use them. While many schools do not
have computers, there is a common factor between all of the
schools that are not properly equipped with the right technology.
The majority of the students that go to these schools are either
classified into one of these groups: poor, race, ethnicity,
or language. These students are usually put into programs that
do not get the benefit of computers.
that have the largest number of economically disadvantaged children
are the ones that have the lowest number of computers in the
school. The ratio of students to computers in these schools
is much higher than the United States average. In Figure
3, it is apparent that as Title 1 students, students that are
eligible for free or reduced lunch, become the majority at the
school the fewer computers the school has, and the more students
there are per computer (Source: QED (Quality Education
Data), 1997). The same is true for schools that have over
90 percent of the students as a minority. Figure 4 shows
that as the percentage of minority students increases in a school
the ratio of students per computer increase significantly. The
ratio jumps from 10 students to 1 computer, to 17 students to
1 computer. Schools that have a majority of poor and minority
students have a lower number of Internet connections within
the classroom. In Figure 12, it shows that has the percentage
of the poor students goes up the less likely the school is going
to have Internet connections. The same conclusion can
be made if the number of minority students is great in a school
then the school will probably not have Internet access
(National Center for Education Statistics, 1997).
Computers seem to have widened the gap between
the different economic classes, race groups, and gender types
(Kleifgen ). The students that need more computers are
the ones that are not getting them while the schools with enough
money are constantly getting new technology. The school is doing
a great disservice to these students. The students without
any knowledge of computers are going to find it more difficult
to succeed in a world that is based around the operation of
a computer. Jobs will be given to a person that has had
experience working with the computer over one that has not.
Teachers and Training
students are being encouraged to use the computer and to familiarize
themselves with the Internet. The same thing should be
said to the teachers. In 1994, the average of teachers
per state who have had at least nine hours of technical training
was 15 percent (Computers and Classrooms, 1999). Many
teachers do know how to use a computer but the problem is that
most do not know how to inform their students about how to work
a computer. The teachers need to be trained specifically
in the field of teaching others about computers. Many
students get their first taste of computers and the Internet
at school. If the teachers are not able to handle teaching
the students about this new technology, then who is going to
teach them about it. They would get no where one their
own. It would be the same effect as asking a first grader
to do multiplication. They would have no idea where to
start. Each year schools receive money for technology.
It is recommended that the schools use 30 percent of the money
for training, but on average only 5 percent is spent (Llanos,
1999). A survey preformed by the Department of Education
found that one out of five teachers feel comfortable teaching
and using technology in their classroom.
What is Being Done
are many problems with the technology in the school systems.
Yet these problems have not gone unnoticed and people are doing
something about it. Many schools are currently without
computers and Internet connection. Companies are donating
their time and money to help schools get the necessary equipment
in their schools. Schools with little funding are able
to locate discounts on certain aspects of getting the Internet
connection such as the phone lines and network connecting.
“As computers replace blackboards and as the Internet provides
access to the world’s store of knowledge, teachers must learn
how to incorporate these tools into their classrooms and curricula.”
(Llanos, 1999) Programs are being started that will help
educate the teachers in the technology so that they are able
to better help the students. Public Schools are starting
to require teachers to take certification courses that will
instruct the teachers. Seminars are being held that will
teach teachers about online systems. The school system
is setting aside more money to cover the cost of these instructions.
More schools are starting to reward their teachers for attending
classes about technology in the classroom.
The President of the United States has even addressed the situation.
In the Call to Action for American Education two of his main
topics were to “make sure there’s a talented and dedicated teacher
in every classroom” and “connect every classroom and library
to the Internet.” As the information increases in the
schools, the teachers must be given the highest quality training
and preparation in order to deal with the demand that is going
to be made on them. “Today, technological literacy—computer
skills and the ability to use computers and other technology
to improve learning, productivity and performance—is a new basic
that our students must master.” (President Clinton’s Call to
Action for American Education in the 21st Century, 1997)
Informative software is being developed that will help guide
not only the teacher but also the student through the computer
and the Internet.
Three companies, Schools Online, World Links, and I*Earn, have
begun to provide needed resources to underdeveloped schools.
Schools Online goes to remote regions in the United States and
the world and wires the school up for the Internet. World
Links helps to provide computer-training skills to teachers
of economically deprived schools. I*Earn gives the teachers
educational resources that will help them in the classroom (DeMocker,
United States still has a long way to go to make sure that the
students are ready for the future. The statistics show
great improvement in the last ten years in both computer/student
ratios and the number of classes that have been connected to
the Internet. Private Companies are donating time and
materials to help students in undeveloped schools to help get
the school more up to date. More emphasis is being placed
on teachers learning how to use the computer, and then using
the computer in her classes to also help the students learn.
Many government funded programs have been started that will
fund the needs of the lower income schools.