The information revolution is sweeping the world. Computer networks capable of storing, processing and transmitting vast amounts of data are webbing their way into the lives of people the world over. Increasingly sophisticated computers assume the status of a necessity for a significant section of people and institutions across the globe. The Internet links together more and more businesses, institutions, families and individuals, making all manner of information accessible on the ‘information superhighway’. ‘Dot.com’ enterprises and learning sites that cater to a variety of different ‘consumers’ are becoming the order of the day.
Many of the (upper middle class) parents and students of our schools are wired into this trend. Not only do many parents begin to look upon the facility in using computers as a necessary passport to a future livelihood, but there is increasing pressure on schools to make the use of computers an integral part of their curriculum. The media projects the ‘schools of the future’ as those that will incorporate ‘computer-centric’ learning as part of their methodology. Some visualize a ‘virtual’ or a ‘digital classroom’ with students learning in radically newways in front of individual computers wired to the Internet.
What are the standpoints from which educators in our schools view this new educational wave, and what kinds of responses are we finding to the new educational possibilities and problems that the computer and Internet bring to the doorstep of our schools? In other words, ‘what place shall we give computersat school?’
The editors of the Journal sought individual responses to this crucial issue from a diverse group of educators. What follows is a summary of four viewpoints, each addressing the issues at stake at different levels, from different points of view.