The computer is just a tool that can used in almost any way the user sees fit. The controversy to me seems to be about the way it is used. It's like the VCR. Some teachers use it to as a babysitter to keep the kids interested in something they don't have to put any work behind It's not the VCR that's wrong- it's the teacher. In fact, the Internet is even worse than the VCR. It can be much more dangerous than the VCR when used inappropriately and a huge waste of time and money.
All of us can probably tell tales of teachers who have let kids get on it during free time or use poorly construct lessons where students just sort of browse the Internet without any directed path or supervision. There must be learning objectives each time a child gets on the Internet in my classroom. There are established ground rules (like no e-mail, chat rooms, or unrelated sites to the lesson, etc.) that when broken result in loosing Internet privileges. Teachers should be trained in how to use the Internet for educational purposes. I agree that the computer should be used in moderation and with tight guidelines (even my computer graphics students are forced to push away from the computer each week and draw) but it's no argument for not having that technology in the classroom. These Chicken Little experts almost use scare tactics to keep kids off the computers and it's ridiculously one-sided to me. I wish I could be at your debate- I'm already getting worked up about it!
For NC teachers- I'm presenting at our NCAEA convention in Charlotte about how you can use the Internet in the art classroom. It's called the "Wired Art Teacher" and it's Friday morning at 10:00am. I've been busy working on my handouts- yes, handouts! Hope to see some of you there.
Michelle H. Harrell
Southeast Raleigh High School
Center for Accelerated Studies
Raleigh, North Carolina Get Your Private, Free E-mail from MSN Hotmail at http://www.hotmail.com.