IT in schools or anywhere

I know that my local school has had to drop an IT course for aspiring people because No qualified IT technician/advisor.
The cost of PC per class is about £800 per PC annually in UK or so I am informed.
recently I asked this question in Florida USA.
How many computers do you have per child @ infant, junior, high school.
The answer amazed me.
We aim to have 1 PC per 3/4 infants, 1 per 2 juniors, every schoolboy/girl in high school will have their own PC @ school plus 1 technician per 200 PCs.
So my question is How will our schools reach these standards. It is simply not a matter of throwing money at the problem> The local education authority will simply continue to rip of schools budget.
What do you think?

  Revo 09:19 19 Feb 2003

I used to work as a technician in a school, i had over 200 computers to look after. It was the worst (and best) place to work (worst for the beaurecracy (sp), best for the end result)

There was no budget for the computer equipment, which was going out of date when i started, and if things broke, unless i could fix them, did not get replaced for the rest of the term.

The mindset of the people running the budget has to be understood as well. When I started the two main classrooms both had HP deskjet 500 printes connected, printing about 2500-3000 sheets of paper each week, whch ran through ink, and printers quickly, I had to fight to get a proper capacitly laser printer installed, even though it saved money over the long term, because it cost more to purchase initially.

Backing up data? how many tapes would you need to back up a server using gfs for a year? i was allowed 5 because of cost.

I even tried to introduce the internet to the school, did some research and gave them three propsals, 1) full access with a leased line (reduced cost, sponsored by a local firm) using a Linux bos as firewall and server (no cost for o/s and minimal for the pc)
2)Full access run by outside company, pricey (for a school) but would work and be supported by other than me
3) single access with a modem (need to buy modem, AOL free for schools)

Guess what was picked? yup cheap option.

Don't get me wrong, Teachers in the main can see the benefits of technology, and things are starting to improve, but unfortunately, it is not up to the teachers to make the decisions, it falls to the head/governors/financial controllers of the school, and where the money has to be split for various things, non essential items take a back seat.

Sorry for the long post.

  Theonewhowatchesoveryou 09:59 19 Feb 2003

Untill recently I was on the board of governers at my youngest childs school (primary) I was also the chairperson of the finance committee, the school had a rather small ITC classroom consisting of 15 old networked computers, the overall responsibility coming under control of the only teacher who voluntered. The hardware had in the main been donated by a highstreet bank and the initail setup etc also being undertaken by them as part of a local charity thing. The cost of printer ink etc came out of a very small IT budget. One of the first things I did as chairperson was to recommend to increase the budget for IT and authurise the purchase of some much needed equipment and software. I remember cleary the meeting at which the head asked for clearance to but 12 laptops from PCW in order that the teachers and himself could take them home and use!! (total cost at the time nearly 20k)After much discussion it emerged that the total monies provided by the government for IT for the whole year was less than cost that the head wanted to spend on laptops. At a full governers meeting it was decided to use some of (vast) surplus moneys being held to re-vamp and equip the ITC suite, the result that the school now has 40 computers and 5 laser printers, (the head still has not got his laptop) however the upkeep (toners etc) and upgrades needed to hardware is in the main subsided by the parent committees fund raising!!. Having asked my daughter about the amount of time she gets using the ITC suite she has told me that her class gets one hour per week!! Clearly much more investment is needed to enable our future to benifit, kids proberly learn more at home about computers than at school. At least Tesco seem to realise this and are running the computers for school promotion again.

  calwyn 11:43 19 Feb 2003

I am the technician at a Smallish comprehensive school near Scunthorpe (750 kiddies).
I think that each school is different in its approach to computers, ours is very good on the whole. The government is running a scheme wich aims to have a ratio of 1 pc to 5 pupils by the end of 2004, and our school will reach that this summer.
I am expecting to place an order tommorow for 50 new pc's, a new server and upgrades of existing equiptment, to make way for windows 2000 server and xp-pro workstation rollout in the summer holidays.
Also there are plans for a C.A.D. suite and a fleet of laptops for engineering control projects next year.
I dont think that we do that bad in england really.

  Theonewhowatchesoveryou 12:53 19 Feb 2003

Could be that the goverment considers it more important for comprehensive schools to get most of the funding? the school that my eldest daughter (14)attends has a brilliant ITC suite with top of the range kit in it, they even have the facility to lend kids laptops from the library! all school bullitens/letters etc are sent via e-mail to the parents as well as by paper letter. All the kids have their own passwords to log on the network etc and can e-mail their homework projects etc. I suppose that by time kids get to secondary school all they are expected to have is a rudimentary knowledge as this will be built upon in the later years of education

Some what the responses I half expected. Schools do want to use the technology. Below shool level/Governors a need is recognised but council authorities above it is a different ball park.
Another question rises. Is it the case that the earlier a child starts with IT the more rapidly during the later stages he/she will progress?
The simile is if a child starts to swim @ 3 years how good does that child become later in life. What credence do the political bigwigs of local authorities attach to this fact or is it just cost cutting.
It is to the credit of parents who work voluntary to raise money that makes things happen. Good on them!

  Forum Editor 07:26 20 Feb 2003

it does seem to be the case that secondary schools fare much better when it comes to IT facilities. They obviously control bigger budgets, and of course the curriculum is more demanding in IT terms as well.

As far as primary schools go, of course it's a pity that there aren't more computers/facilities/trained staff, but I can't help but feel that a lot of the parents who complain about the poor equipment and teaching might help matters a good deal if they themselves took a basic computer course and got together the money for a computer at home. I appreciate that not all parents can afford to do this, but the large majority could - even if it meant sacrificing something else.

The problem will to a large degree solve itself, once we have a generation of parents who grew up with computers at home and at school. These people will have computers around from the moment their children are born, and they'll be computer-literate enough to do the early teaching themselves.

  Sir Radfordin™ 08:28 20 Feb 2003

Do we really need IT in primary schools?

I've grown up without a TV or a Computer at home, until about 1996 when my dad was given a PC as part of his redundancy package. Until I came to Uni in 2000 I had no training at all on a Computer and yet was working for a small car dealer doing websites and organising all their IT stuff.

It isn't that hard to pick up this IT lark at a basic level, so why not focus on teaching kids the basics (how to spell...respect the community they live in...etc) and then at Secondary school allow those basics to become the building blocks for a good and proper understanding of IT.

Speaking to teachers I know it seems like the National Curriculam is trying to teach far too much at Primary school. By the time kids leave they are almost expected to be experts in everything in M$ Office. What are they then going to go onto s Seconday school?

So many people I know who have been into computers since they were 5 lack the social skils needed to get a job. They can do endless things with the PC but that doesn't help if they also need to interact with people.

I don't see a problem with keeping computers out of the classrom in the early stages of school. I don't think I've lost out at all.

you have missed the point infants do learn quicker in front of a monitor/TV & there are courses for phonetics etc. Sink or swim should start when. The earlier the better. We still have too many young people leaving school without learning reading/writing/sums for whatever reasons!
This has to change. 1 headmaster aspires to teach children @ home both teacher/children alike making the physical school redundant. This give rise to a major argument. Who is loco parentis when most parents work male/female

the main problem that I recognise is the fact that in the world education league UK is about half way down just above the 3rd world countries.
Somewhere in the promises of all Gov the money is filtered out before it reaches schools. If we are to achieve the standards being set by Japan & USA we need to overhaul how money taken from us in taxes is levied down to the roots. It is my grandchildren & great grandchildren who should have this IT technology now not in several generation to come.
What heights of dreams for the future will our children reach if we give them the opportunity

  Forum Editor 18:23 20 Feb 2003

about citing American schools as an example - I've seen some that wouldn't hold a candle to ours.

You're right about the importance of IT in primary schools though - one of my clients is a large government establishment. So many people work there that they have a kindergarten for children of pre-school age. A year or so ago I was asked to advise on setting up computers and software for the children, and I spent a few days there after the equipment had been in use for a few weeks. I sat surrounded by four year olds who proceeded to show me how they could produce birthday cards and maps, and draw pictures of their homes and parents. They knew how to send email, and could operate a printer and scanner. I was astonished at how rapidly they acquired computing skills, and the teachers told me that some of the children had shown them how to use a basic picture editing package.

Of course we need to spend more on IT in primary schools, but we need to spend more on many other things in the schools as well. It's no earthly good having the best equipment if the teachers themselves don't have the IT skills necessary to teach the children - and many of them don't.

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