DEBATE: Should pupils use laptops in class?

The Government of Rwanda spearheaded the one laptop per child campaign. Also, they recently signed off the set up of Positivo BGH in Kigali to enhance access to affordable devices and leverage the access to boost development and use technology as an enabler for the country to meet her vision 2020 goal.

It’s a digital age

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The Government of Rwanda spearheaded the one laptop per child campaign. Also, they recently signed off the set up of Positivo BGH in Kigali to enhance access to affordable devices and leverage the access to boost development and use technology as an enabler for the country to meet her vision 2020 goal.

While we grew up using books sitting behind a chalkboard, we managed to make it, but laptops bring a better learning environment that gives children much better interest in school than books and pensever did – or will.

As a child, learning through visuals and sound beat reading hands down. Also, laptops provide a chance for “slow” children to learn the basics of things through various illustrations. Textbooks on the other hand only have a few static pictures and words that make children cold towards learning.

The world is a global village because of the Internet. If you don’t have a book in hand, you can get it online.

Laptops boost research and private learning through resources available online that can’t be found in hard copies.

Learning using a laptop doesn’t only give you the knowledge of whatever you learnt in class, it comes with soft computer skills that if nurtured very well, could create more Mark Zuckerbergs and the like. Also, these skills are becoming a necessity for getting any job today.

Different textbooks have at least over 300 pages and when one gets to high school, they are required to use counter books that are even bigger. With the environmentally threatened world we live in today, isn’t it high time we saved the trees by using digital platforms for learning?

‘I lost my books’, and all the notes that were written for over two years are never to be recovered. Laptops do get lost but there are over 10 recovery software programmes including East Africa Data Handler which was developed by a Kenyan student after he lost all his data towards the deadline of project hand-in.

Towards final examinations, the books a student carries can fill a big bag of heavy weight. Imagine carrying these books everyday throughout the year? It comes with so many health effects over a long period of time. On the contrary, one laptop serves the purpose of exercise books, textbooks and references, including past papers.

In conclusion, a child will touch their parents’ phones and within less than a month, they can access things on the phone or laptop that even the parent couldn’t. The same applies to tablets and laptops. Children have ease with technology and this isn’t the same when it comes to books. A child will have a bunch of books in their drawer and only if the parent induces a reading culture, a child will not. This shows the familiarity they have with devices unlike back in the day.

patrick.buchana@newtimes.co.rw

As a supplement, not a replacement of the traditional way of learning

1443723834doreen-umutesi

I am all for embracing technology and change but I feel that allowing students to use laptops in class will limit the learning process. I believe that laptops should be a supplement, not a replacement of the traditional learning ways.

The chance of laptops distracting the attention of a student during a lesson is high. For instance there are a variety of video games and visuals that a student will be tempted to ‘execute’ while the teacher is making a presentation and in the end; the student will miss out on the lesson.

It would be so hard for a teacher to restrict students using laptops during a lesson unless of course they order them to switch off the laptops.

Let’s not forget that students need to learn the language of instruction, putting into consideration the grammar and spelling aspect. Laptops have autocorrect, thus a student will not care about actually learning these words.

If we get rid of the traditional blackboard and books and embrace laptops, hard drives and flash disks instead, what happens when the teacher sets a test? It’s very easy to cheat using gadgets so we have to be careful when warming up to technology.

Let’s consider the health aspect too. We all know that too much of something is bad. If we were to calculate the number of hours a student spends at school, we would find that the most productive time of the day is in the class room using the laptop. It’s not good for eyes or their mind for that matter.

An article by Dr Gary Heiting titled ‘Kids, Computers and Computer Vision,’ indicates that like adults, children who spend many hours in front of a computer have a greater risk of developing computer ergonomics problems and computer vision syndrome.

Since most of these students’ eyesight is still developing, it’s better to restrict them from over using computers.

Another factor to consider before advocating for laptop use in classrooms is the fact that laptops are expensive to maintain. It’s an expensive scheme that can limit the less privileged students, most especially those from less fortunate families. At least books and pens are affordable.

The technicality of laptops is another point to put into consideration when promoting their use in classrooms. Laptops crash and retrieving data is hard, so a student is likely to lose their work.

Very many people went through school with good old blackboards and notebooks, and they turned out just fine. If they survived it, so can the generations to follow.

doreen.umutesi@newtimes.co.rw

 

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