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How many Computers?

The natural question that any parent should ask when considering the role of computers in education is how much is enough?

“What Kevin Rudd has done is raise expectations through the roof all year promising he’d come up with innovative and original thinking but when the time came to deliver he failed,” Mrs Bishop told ABC Radio today.

“He’s clearly vacated the field of new ideas and there was nothing remotely revolutionary in anything he had to say.”

Yesterday, Mr Rudd pledged to deliver a computer for every Australian student in years 9 to 12, amongst a raft of initiatives to ensure students had world-class internet access.

Mrs Bishop said schools already had an adequate number of PCs in place.

“I visit schools all across Australia I’m yet to see a school that is not well served with computers.”

A 2003 Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report found Australian students had “universal access” to computers, she said.

The Australian

We have three PC’s in this house and my children, even the three year old, are amazingly competent in their use. I encourage them to develop their computer skills because I recognise that the PC is the portal to the modern world of information. However I really don’t think that more is better when it comes to computers in education . My daughter’s school has an adequate number of computers and they are very well used by the students when it is considered appropriate by their teachers.

Labor under Rudd would see an individual machine supplied for each child and they want to ensure that every school is connected to broadband. I actually agree with the notion that every school should have connectivity to broadband and I don’t think that The ALP has any monopoly on that idea. However the notion that every high school student should have an individual lap top, with net access no doubt, strikes me as going against all notions of sensible use of the technology by young people as they grow up. We have long been advised that to protect our children that we as parents should ensure that we only allow access to the net from a PC in a public part of the house, that parents should maintain an overview of our children’s actual usage by perusing, the history logs on our PC’s. Yet under Rudd’s plan this parental over view is going to be severely compromised as our children are given unfettered access to the web , unfettered access to chat rooms with their baggage and the inevitable predators who prey on the vulnerable. Anyone who is honest will tell you that filtering programs like “net Nanny” are by no means perfect and computer savvy children can disable them quickly enough so there is in reality no way to ensure that the content that Rudd’s “Education revolution” will expose our children to will actually be good for them as young people. Which of course begs the question of the veracity of the information on the Internet. We all know that there is lots of information on the net but young people are by their very nature rather credulous and they acquire the critical facilities to decide on the real value of the information only over time. The guidance of us as parents and those we nominate as our proxies (their teachers) have a very big part to play in helping them to develop decrement and an ability to find the specs of truth amounts the vast amount of dross that populates the web. Of course you will not hear any of these concerns from the Ruddites who seem to be in the thrall of the purveyors of the technology, because surely the computer makers and the software writers must be rubbing their hands together with glee at the prospect of selling so many new machines and operating systems under a Ruddite regime.

We are all agreed that our children need to be computer literate to find their place in the modern world, as in good cooking there comes a point where more is not necessarily better. A laptop for every child in years 9 to 12 is without doubt a case of far too much salt in the soup.

Cheers Comrades

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