ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Computer Use for Students in Education

Updated on February 28, 2011

Technology Use in an Educational Setting

The question of at what age/grade computers should be introduced to students has been a point of controversy for the past twenty years since computers were first introduced in a meaningful way into the classroom. As with most issues in education, research points in two directions: a) computer use at an early age (preschool – Kindergarten) has no real positive educational benefits, and b) computer use with children as young as preschool has been shown to have positive educational benefits.

Proponents of both views can marshal their ammunition as needed. The Alliance for Childhood argues “that the data seems clear that computers offer few advantages in these years.” Some schools do not begin computer lessons until students are at Grade 2 or 3. For example, at the University of Chicago Lab Schools students do not begin using computers in an organized way until Grade 2 because the school feels that “the primary goal in the Lower School computer classes is to help the students become technologically literate. This is achieved by exposing students to a wide variety of hands-on computer experiences that includes programming, simulations, information gathering, and working with applications and subject area software. By providing a broad range of computer experiences, we help students understand how computers can facilitate learning in all subject areas.”

Many other educators argue that students as young as Kindergarten or even pre-school can benefit from computer use. Pamela Livingston, director of information technology at Chestnut Hill Academy, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, believes that "Computers offer K-3 students opportunities to go beyond the four walls of their classrooms in unique ways. They can take a virtual field trip to China, pose questions to their favorite authors and get instant responses, and exchange information with children at a tribal Indian school through videoconferencing, e-mail, and a video exchange. No one can afford to take all his or her students to Africa. But computers let them go there, learn about it, and experience it in a way no other medium can.”

All this being said, there seems to be a trend in new research that shows that computer use with the early grades does have positive benefits for students providing that computer use is carried out with certain provisos in mind (and in use):

  • Computers are used to do a learning activity in a new and creative way or to do a learning activity that is possible only with the help of technology.
  • Computers are used as a tool for learning and not as technology for technology's sake. That is, students are not sent to a lab just so that it can be said that technology is being used.
  • Computers are used in a way that allows all students to complete the task successfully, independently, and in the time allotted.
  • Computers are used in a way that accommodates students' varied developmental levels and needs.
  • Computers are used for a task that is curriculum-based and meets educational standards.
  • Computers are integrated in the classroom for use in context, not in a laboratory setting using applications that are not related to real work being done in the classroom.
  • For very young children, computers should only be one of many activities that they can explore.
  • The software is interactive or discovery based.
  • Teachers are familiar with the software and its application and are comfortable using it in the classroom.

As Bernadette Davis and Daniel Shade noted: “Schools often put computers in a single room where children use them once a week under a specialty teacher’s supervision. Unfortunately, this practice has undermined the most valuable aspect of the computer – it’s ability to cut across traditional subject boundaries as a practical and useful tool… Only when computers are integrated into the curriculum as a vital element for instruction and are applied to real problems for a real purpose, will children gain the most valuable computer skill – the ability to use computers as natural tools for learning.”


Computer use is still predicated on the antiquated idea of sending children to a computer lab for independent “lessons” in computer technology taught by a specialist. Best practices with technology suggests that computers be viewed as tools, not as a separate subject. Children in primary grades would best benefit from using computers in the classroom with developmentally appropriate software on activities related to their curriculum where they work on applying them to real problems with a real purpose.

Primary teachers frequently use “drill and kill” software (Math Blaster) with their young students. These types of programs should only be used for limited amounts of time as they are directed at increasing skills and not cognitive development. Young students need to work with software designed for specific educational purposes in general. However, a “smorgasbord of technologies can be quite effective with students of all ages – this would include such things as digital recorders, digital cameras, digital video cameras, computers (such as the iMac) which are designed to be used in a multimedia format.

Additionally, there are numerous websites (the educational website has a list of these sites) designed to be used by primary age students as an aid to developing literacy and subject matter knowledge. Planned use of these sites integrated with the curriculum and media such as books and hands-on activities appears, according to the research, to be an effective use of computers with primary age children.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)