REPORT #148 Nov 1999
A misunderstanding or wrong expectations to do with learning and computers.

Produced by the Belize Development Trust

Somewhat true, but mixed ideas. A little bit like mixing apples and oranges. Computers will not teach math in school. Nor many other subjects. They do however, used properly widen a students learning experience in many useful ways.

Certainly reading and reading comprehension will benefit. Geography if used with appropriate geography based CD ROM games as part of any class. There are treasure hunt type games on CD ROM that will lead a student through the capitals and countries of the world that make learning fun. A host of other such learning games, in science, biology and other fields.

I liken a computer to my browsing as a youngster through a set of encyclopedia by the hour. Did it improve my grades in school? Nope! Did it improve my worldliness and knowledge? Yup!

In my own context of using computers in a library, it cannot be beat. Reference librarians in any progressive library of any nature today, access 95 % of the information students and faculty use by the internet. Does this mean books will be gone? Nope! Just that the use of a public library will be more directed to fiction, specialized topics and magazines of technical and informative nature, rather than a computer.

The current estimate is that one internet computer is equal to an investment in 2 1/2 million books in your library stacks. You want to read a critique on Shakespeare, its on the web. You want to know about the African diaspora influence in Brazil, its on the web. You get a hole in the wall library in Hialeah near here, or back in de bush of Toledo with a computer, they now have information available to them that only a University of a dozen years ago had, with an investment in a million volumes of books on the shelves. The internet is an equalizer. It is not a substitute for classroom teaching.

I have been trying to teach myself C++ computer programming for over six months. Still getting no where! Yet it is on the internet all over the place, I have the programs and all. I simply need the teacher to direct me and give me the assignment disciplines to progress. Going to have to take a class.

We had early computers on Caye Caulker in the RC school in the late 1960's. These were mechanical type computers. They had learning paper discs and you answered self teaching subjects ( math included )by answer, or picking the right answer. If you were wrong, you got kicked back to the previous question. Never worked out as a learning tool. You need the teacher to discipline you and keep you going. Also to explain those troublesome spots in any subject.

Are computers going to change education? A bit! Enhance it yes! Replace the classroom teacher? No! We already went through this revolution back in the late 1960's in Belize. A computer in early grades is nothing more than a new kind of encyclopedia and it will do what an ecnyclopedia does, except it is interactive around the world, so more comprehensive. You still have to organize and teach. Access to knowledge is empowerment of the individual. No better tool exists yet, than a computer for remote rural people, for community development purposes. Certain subjects are amenable to learning from foreign parts over the internet. Nowadays, the voice and video cam capabilities have improved internet classrooms a hundred fold. No different than being in the outback of Australia going to school from your remote farmhouse with a radio transmitter.

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