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Internet Emphasis Does Not Compute

ORANGE COUNTY VOICES

Education: Focus on online technology leaves schools with fewer resources for teaching basic skills.

December 12, 1999|REGINA POWERS | Regina Powers is a student teacher at Cal State Fullerton

To say that the Internet is essential to our children's education is ludicrous and dangerously ignorant.

Obviously students of all ages can use the Internet as a research tool. However, the research gathered through the Internet is often unreliable, and whether it is or isn't, there is no way for students to check or cross-reference their data's validity. That is unlike what happens when one uses printed materials for research.

Furthermore, equating Internet access with "equal educational opportunity" is a myopic attitude to adopt and promote. Let's remember that there are school districts that cannot afford to purchase textbooks or run their air-conditioning.

In schools that are lucky enough to have computers, students may receive less than half an hour per week in a computer lab furnished with 1980 Mac computers--which will, of course, have to be replaced (using taxpayers' money) in order to become Internet-accessible.

In addition, expecting teachers to incorporate technology in their classrooms is like expecting the parent of 20 to keep written records of what each child eats and drinks every day. It's not impossible, just excruciatingly time-consuming, especially for an instructor who is unfamiliar with the school's computer system.

Besides this, the program that teachers are encouraged to utilize now is sure to be phased out by a new system in a couple of years. Wasn't it less than a decade ago that BASIC was considered an advanced computer language? New software and "high-speed" technologies are constantly being reinvented.

It's not fair to expect schools to spend large amounts of money on upgrades. Neither is it fair to expect teachers to spend valuable time that would be spent better on teaching in the classroom on computer training sessions.

The obsession America seemingly has adopted toward teaching computer skills in the classroom is a severe waste of taxpayers' time and money. With all the tutorial programs available, I would argue that acquiring strong computer skills can take anyone about two to six weeks.

Why not learn about computers and the advantages of the Internet and e-mail in the latter part of high school when students are more capable of utilizing the computer as a tool versus a video game?

Before demanding that all schools become Internet-accessible, let's try becoming more effective at teaching children how to read, to write, to calculate and to think. Knowledge and learning are so much more than simply pointing and clicking to obtain information.

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