Value of Computer Training in Vocational-Technical Schools
Computer training in Vocational Technical Schools is a must just as it is should be in all middle schools and high schools. There are many life skills that need to be acquired and a computer classroom provides those skills.
In a Computer Literacy or Computer Applications class students should be learning the proper keyboarding techniques. I know many think that it’s no longer necessary but believe me if you’re paying someone high dollars to type programming or do other typing speed and accuracy is quite necessary.
Also, such a class should provide Internet Usage skills and Ethics. Students should learn what are considered inappropriate sites and how to avoid them. They should be learning to do Internet searches for very specific information. Students need to learn to validate the information by finding who put up the site, who the author is, the date of the information and whether that constitutes validity. This also helps higher level students determine which ones are primary and secondary sources.
Students should learn emailing techniques and etiquette. Emails are a common way to apply for a job. They fill out an on-line job application and attach a resume to an email. Once they get a job they will need to be using emails every day since it is common for all in-house correspondence to be done via emails. Schedule changes, meetings, etc. are sent via email.
Students need to learn to use a word processing program for typing assigned reports, writing resumes and letters of application, college applications, and more. It more important than ever for everyone to learn these techniques since no one relies solely on secretaries for correspondence anymore.
Presentation programs are another must in today’s society. Anytime you do a presentation to a group whether it be for a class, an organization, or a business they expect to be entertained. Every meeting, luncheon, workshop, and convention has technological gadgets to keep us mesmerized. Students must be taught how to make it happen and how to operate the projectors, laptops and interactive screens that allow them to “show their stuff”.
So, if you think that technology and particularly computers are not functional as educational tools let’s examine the facts. Computers are only pieces of equipment and if the teacher doesn’t know how to use them effectively they won’t work. If we don’t teach a student to use a ruler correctly they won’t be able measure accurately.
There are many excellent technology teachers who use the computers effectively everyday. These teachers are trained to teach technology just as math teachers teach math and English teachers teach grammar.
It is unfair to throw one computer in a classroom of an elementary teacher with 30 students and then say using the computer is ineffective and not educational. That is not a computer classroom and it shouldn’t be used to measure the effectiveness of computer education.
Many of the studies available date back to 2000 which makes it outdated and overrated information. Technology has turned the corner and most schools now have full labs where teachers can take the entire class and devote time to learning the computers and appropriate programs.
There are many monitoring programs available to watch all the screens and keep children on task. They come with teacher tools for speaking to a student individually over the microphone to get them back on track, the capability of freezing all the computers while the teacher lectures, to blocking all sites but the ones teachers want the students to access, and more.
Teachers control the students and the curriculum. Just as with any other subject the teacher must be informed, knowledgeable, and well prepared for the lesson if learning is to take place. Computer teachers always know that no device is foolproof and occasionally things go awry.
If there are computer issues during a lesson the teacher should be prepared with “computerless” lessons for the interim until the lab is back up and running. A few generic computer related puzzles, vocabulary games, tech articles, that can be used with any group should be placed in a box in the lab. Being prepared and dealing with situations is part of the teacher’s role as classroom manager.
Schools should not expect every teacher to be computer literate enough to teach computer classes. They should hire someone that is capable and have a functional lab where learning is always the main focus. Learning only takes place when both the teacher and the student are prepared to interact and are focused on the same goal.
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