Turned on/switched off: exploring children's engagement with computers in primary school

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Abstract

Beneath the renewed political emphasis on computer use in primary (K-6) schools the place for the pupil has been somewhat taken-for-granted. Indeed, the current U.K. National Grid for Learning initiative is founded on the underlying assumption that children will quickly and effortlessly adapt to using new technologies. This article, therefore, explores the perceptions and views of primary school children in explaining, discussing, and rationalizing their use (or otherwise) of computers in the primary classroom. Based on focus group interview data with 267 pupils from five schools in South and Mid-Wales, the article presents four recurring themes which children used to understand and describe their engagement with computers in school. These are broadly grouped into: (1) the speed and ease of work-processes when using computers; (2) the extending or curtailing of learners' abilities when using computers; (3) freedoms and restrictions of the finished product when using computers and, finally, (4) concerns over originality and authenticity when using computers. From this basis the article goes onto discuss possible ways of more effectively presenting computers to pupils in classroom settings through both policy and practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-266
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Educational Computing Research
Volume25
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2001
Externally publishedYes

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