ThimphuTech was the first technology blog in Bhutan. We started writing it in 2009, just as broadband and mobile internet started to take off. (Although internet in Bhutan was launched in 1999, it was either super-slow or super-expensive, and was only used by a selected few).

In the blog, we wrote about technology and food, but also about plenty of other stuff. The blog became popular and influential in Bhutan. A companion bi-weekly column -- Ask Boaz -- was published for many years in the Kuensel, Bhutan's national newspaper. (The complete Kuensel columns are available as an ebook, Blogging with Dragons).

We stopped updating the blog when we left Bhutan in 2014, but the information within the posts can still prove useful, and thus we decided to keep it online.

We thank all our readers.
Tashi Delek,
Boaz & Galit.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Introducing computers into schools

Yesterday's Kuensel editorial discussed the advancement of IT skills in the education systems, mentioning the plan "to empower 5,000 teachers and 50 core group teachers and equip some 168 schools or so with computer labs." The introduction of computers into schools, while now widely implemented in developed countries, has lead to some serious criticism. Does the introduction of computers improve scholastic achievements? Multiple studies have shown that the introduction of computers on its own does not improve, and can even degrade student achievement. Here are a few articles that tell the story:

  • An Israeli prize laureate in education discusses some of the issues with classroom computerization and scholastic achievement in this recent article.
  • The 2007 New York Times article "Seeing No Progress, Some School Drop Laptops" describes some of the challenges experienced by schools in the United States that have computers and Internet access.

Kids today quickly learn on their own how to type and to use basic or even advanced applications (have you seen some youngsters on Facebook lately?). The role of teachers (and ideally parents as well) is therefore to introduce students to ways in which computers can enhance their learning and their natural curiosity, as well as to educate them about "life skills" in the Internet age.

Training teachers is not as trivial as teaching them how to use the Microsoft Office package or how to use an Internet browser. Instead, teachers should be introduced to pedagogical methods for enriching their curriculum and academic materials by integrating computer assisted learning. It is not simply the addition of "computer literacy" as a subject, but rather an integration of technology into existing education programs to support developing problem-solving skills, creativity, and independent learning.