Why is a computer room in your school not enough?

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010 | Computer Usage

In Africa a school with a computer room, holding twenty or thirty computers, is indeed fortunate.  Only a small percentage of schools have such facilities.

If you are teaching in a school with a computer room and you have the opportunity to take your learners there, you are indeed privileged.  You are the envy of most of the teachers on the continent.

Computer rooms have many uses, such as allowing learners to gain computer skills, doing drill and practice exercises, doing research and project work, and performing assessment tasks.  You may even be able to use the facility to teach and reinforce what you’ve done in the classroom.

In spite of the good things that can happen in a computer room, you must still try to move technology into your classroom as soon as you can.  Why?  Think about a few of the limitations of the computer room.

Let’s take the example of a school with one thousand learners with a computer room of twenty-five computers.  That means one computer is shared by forty learners.  The learners will have to visit the room on a rotational basis in groups of twenty-five at a time.  When you keep in mind the number of school hours per week, as well as the amount of time required for groups of learners to move between classes, you’ll see that learners in this school will only be able to work on the computers for about half an hour a week.  Clearly not enough for significant curriculum work!

The situation is worse where class groups are of varying sizes.  What does a teacher do with a class group of forty learners?  Fifteen will not have a machine on which to work – they will either have to sit out, or share a computer with another learner.

Careful planning is necessary to ensure that the work you’ll be doing in the computer room is integrated with work you’ve just done in the classroom, or are about to do, otherwise the time spent with technology is wasted.

The solution to the problem is simple: have technology in your classroom at all times.  You don’t need one to one computing.  You can do a lot with a single laptop and a data projector.  Innovative teachers are performing miracles with cell phones.

If you have a computer room, use it as a launch pad: it can propel you and your learners into the universe of technology.  But don’t just orbit the computer room – bring the technology into your classroom.

For more technology tips for teachers click here.

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1 Comment to Why is a computer room in your school not enough?

Dereck Marnewick
Friday, 5 November, 2010

One teacher many learners is the norm. If there is technology that can equip the teacher to better deliver the curricula in the classroom then to restrict ICT to the computer room would be foolish.
Certain activities such as revision (see http://www.biblion.co.za ) and assessment (see http://www.xtrocks.co.za ) are well suited to the computer room, but there are a wide variety of tools and software that can enhance the teaching process in the classroom.

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