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I am on my child's school's education technology committee, and it's out job to make recommendations to the school. They have some things set up, like a web site, email addresses for all the teachers, computers in the school, smart boards in some of the classrooms, etc.

Even though I am a computer professional now, back when I was in elementary/middle school, we didn't have any of this stuff. I would welcome people's suggestions for what the school should have and or do with the computers for the students.

Broadly, for the students:

  • Students should learn to use a computer. That means getting familiar with files, folders, pointing and clicking with the mouse, using the clipboard, typing, etc.

  • Students should learn to do use the computer for certain simple tasks, like finding something on the web, sending email, typing up papers in a word processor, etc.

  • Maybe some students should get a chance to learn more complicated tasks, like building a web site, creating a video project, manipulate digital photos, etc.

  • Learning about how computers work and how to program them, etc.

For the teachers:

  • Tools to use in the classroom to help them teach math/spelling/geography/science/whatever to the students.

  • Tools for teachers to track lessons/grades, generate/score tests, etc.

  • What else?

This is obviously a broad question, but I'm very interested in hearing from anybody who can give examples of successful ways of using computers and ways of teaching students about computers in school.

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closed as off topic by random Jul 13 '12 at 13:52

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I'm assuming that this is in the US. If that's that case can you make it clear in your question, as the answers might be different for the UK (for example) –  ChrisF Jan 5 '10 at 17:22
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I'm really in a dilemma here. At one side, I'd really like to answer it, and on the other I'm for the theory that children until, let's say, 7th or 8th grade should be exposed to computers as little as possible. They get "hooked" on computers easy (just like tv and the like), and in that period they really need to spend as much time outside as possible. They'll learn what they need later ... but now they need to practice their motor skills, and learn some other fundamentals. Do kids in junior school really need email ? Or cellphones ? Anyways, don't take wrong - just my 2 cents for thought ... –  ldigas Jan 5 '10 at 17:32
    
I am in the US, but I am more than pleased to hear of an educational use of computers in the US, UK, or anywhere else. It only matters, I think, that the teachers and students in my situation are English-speaking. –  user14068 Jan 5 '10 at 18:03
    
You might have better luck getting the question answered at Academia Stack Exchange. –  noloader Jun 22 at 3:59

8 Answers 8

Skills in how to use spreadsheets are invaluable for the inevitable maths projects about statistics.

Perhaps a few things on computer networking might also be handy for more advanced topics.

On the topic of teaching web design, I would suggest that it be taught as a markup language along with CSS. With these 2 things, I found making web pages became a lot easier.

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I would recommend basic word processing and spreadsheets and the like starting in third or fourth grade. Before that, typing skills and some learning games, especially ones with problem solving and hand-eye coordination, are the main things needed. At around sixth grade I'd start with networks and interconnections. Throw email in there just about anywhere once they have decent writing skills (fourth or fifth?). If you can get them pen pals (or email pals) across the country or world, that could be a real eye opener for young kids, and make them more open to the world.

Just my thoughts, I may be way off base.

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Has anyone seen a word processing curriculum for 3rd graders? –  user14068 Jan 5 '10 at 18:10
    
Since they just learned to write and read (and none of them have decent handwriting skills by that time), I'm guessing no. –  ldigas Jan 5 '10 at 18:23
    
We're talking about 8 and 9 year olds reading stuff like these: goodreads.com/list/show/835.Books_for_eight_year_old_children They ought to be literate enough to be taught at a simplified level. –  user14068 Jan 5 '10 at 19:30
    
I had to have perfect cursive handwriting in my third grade class. we stopped having cursive writing lessons as of fourth grade, though we were still graded on penmanship when we did assignments. So I don't know why they shouldn't have decent handwriting skills. –  Joshua Nurczyk Jan 5 '10 at 19:48

Simple programming, perhaps Python? Not for everybody, but the earlier you learn the concepts, the happier you'll be with your PC :)

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This Wikipedia article describes things that you can introduce to children in certain ages. Maybe you could teach the students to use the computer by introducing them to the simple programming languages described there (scroll down to "Languages by age and experience").

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How about Internet safety? Teaching students not to revel too much information is a good lesson. Most parents teach their children to not talk to strangers on the street, but neglect to tell them the same applies to Internet interactions.

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They should make the stuff they are teaching fun for the kids. I would have the kids expanding their curiosity. Give them lists of sites with open source applications and let them install the applications and see what the applications do, play with them.
Get them to play lan games against each other that you can script, then give them a script which for example gives ammo or replenish life in the game a limited times or with a limited amount. Let the little hacker come out of them this way. Tell them they could make the script better and give documentation for the scripting language, explain the scripting language.
Let them play with multiple operating systems which are nicely configured to be eye-candy. Think of ubuntu with gnome and that 3d stuff. Or windows xp with the alienware themes.

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When I was in school (I'm a second year cse major in college now), we weren't taught anything related to computers except how to type. From my experience, people (of all ages) are not going to learn how to do anything with a computer, except through using one.

So I think the best solution is to give assignments which require students to use computers (essays, presentations, etc) and provide the facilities for those who don't have access to computers or the necessary software. The teachers can then give demonstrations and assist students who need help. But asking elementary school students to do such assignments seems a little extreme, although middle school might be a good place to start.

I don't think kids need to be taught how to use computers. However, students should definitely be taught how to type at a young age, but other computer skills will be picked up as time goes on.

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Loads of great answers. A few other related SU questions:

how-do-you-teach-a-child-to-use-a-computer

what-is-the-best-childrens-education-software-youve-encountered

As a primary/elementary teacher in the UK and US, I see the concerns about starting too young, but this is the modern world and like it or not, computer use is an essential part of the curriculum. It's up to the educators and parents to ensure that computer use is balanced with real world activities and traditional teaching methods, and that computer use supplements the curriculum and doesn't replace human interaction.

In early years (ages 2-5), children can use computers to develop fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination with mathematical type match up games. In a developing literacy stage, this can be extended to sound/letter correspondence. The advantage of these is that children can see and hear and do all at the same time, which is not always possible or convenient. Also, the activities are likely to be visually appealing. More so that some teacher made flashcards.

In ages 5-8, children can use storyboarding software (I know Tizzy's tools) to enhance their literacy skills and enjoyment- using a paint like interface and writing a sentence or two. Pupils can (and may be more likely to) create a whole book (of a few pages) using these tools. In numeracy education, being able to drag and drop (in sorting, graphing...) is more educationally appropriate than endless scissor cutting and pasting (although there are important lessons there too)

From age 8, children may be ready for more formal skills. The basics of most of an Office suite is attainable. They particularly enjoy powerpoint and love going overboard with animations and transitions. I showed a class of 9 year olds how to use a simple animated .gif maker and feel that I have helped to develop the next breed of animators.

As the children get more advanced, curious and independent, I have found that just exposing them to possibilities is enough for (some of) their curiosities to run with it. Most children are extremely resourceful and adaptable and will combine the skills taught in wholly unintended ways.

The units of study for England and Wales, age 5-11, can be found here: ICT schemes of work. It may be noticeable that there is a balance between learning about using computers, and using computers and other technological equipment in a real world/modeling way.

I could go on, but it appears that I already have...

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