George Lucas Educational Foundation

Technology Education

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When do today's children start learning about computers and technology that they would use for the rest of their lives (especially Microsoft word, powerpoint, excel). Or are they simply taught at home? How are they taught? When I was in 1st grade, we started learning about computers, but never really had a class for it. We just had to go along with the flow...

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Hubert V. Yee's picture
Hubert V. Yee
social media and marketing manager of startup

Hi Kelly,

Children learn about computers at the age of two these days. My friends' children play with their iPhones and Blackberr[ies]. It is part of their environment. Much like how children play with TV remote controls.

What do you think of children and their interaction with technology? When do you think it's appropriate for them to become immersed in technology?

Elizabeth's picture

Students still learn a little about computers in the primary grades, but there are many interactive programs that students use to learn topics from reading, science, and math. These are what the students use in school. Some teachers will take the time to teach the basics of MS applications, but due to testing and other demands placed upon the teacher it is hard to justify the time spent teaching these applications.

I have taught upper elementary and middle school science where I was able to use Excel to teach data tables and graphing, Word to teach writing within the content, and PowerPoint to teach presenting information. I believe that spending 10-15 minutes a day on keyboarding skills is a good start and will make the use of other applications easier for students and make them feel more competent with technology. I now am teaching second grade, self-contained and would like to use these applications as part of my curriculum. To me, the time to teach these applications will be valuable for both the student and myself.

Jen Petras's picture
Jen Petras
NBCT, Technology teacher in a K-8 school.

Hi Kelly,
I'm the computer teacher in a private K-8 school, and I teach Keyboarding, Word, PowerPoint, Excel, etc. to all of my students. I have many lessons and unit plans that build on previous lessons. K-use Word to type the alphabet and introduce the keyboard. Keyboarding starts in 1st grade, but I don't do formal grading/assessment until 5th-8th grade. PowerPoint starts in 3rd grade, and 2nd grade is introduced to Excel. (just to name a few).
Although (in Ohio)computer teachers in public school are often the first to be laid off due to budget cuts.
I have been told (formally), from the public schools in my area, that all of my graduating 8th graders are automatically placed in advanced computer courses in high school.
I think that all schools should have computer teachers on staff---permanently.

Mr. Stapleton's picture
Mr. Stapleton
6th Grade Teacher and Tech Integration Specialist, Seoul, Korea

Children learn computers and digital technology at a very early age - is there anything wrong with that? I don't believe so - in fact, I think education needs to embrace technology more. Students need to be educated in the capabilities of technology, how to use technology correctly, and the dangers of technology. These are fundamental to student success and safety in a world that exists no longer just in the physical and web. I recently blogged about this and 21st century skills on my wordpress:

CorDreka Baptiste's picture
CorDreka Baptiste
TeachUp! Intern

I think that kids should get an early start on using technology even if its just playing a games on their parents phone, at least their be exposed to it early on. In the classrooms here I start letting kids use computers on their own in as early as 2nd and 1st grade. The world around them is changing every day.

The Resourceful Teacher's picture
The Resourceful Teacher
Anonymous blogger with over 10 years experience teaching multiple grades.

At our school, we have a computer lab where students are taught how to use Microsoft beginning in 1st grade. If your school doesn't have a lab available, you might want to teach them in your own classroom via a video projector. I have actually created units where students practice using Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. If you go to my website you can download these units by grade level. Hope it helps!!!

Kirstenclarke's picture

I think the important thing is exposing children to and giving them opportunities to expore and become familiar with technology. If we start this at an early age with engaging activities and introducing the students to the endless word of opportunities with technology that is the critical thing in the early grades. I don't think they necessarily need to be taught how to use Microsoft office to early because as long as they know how to use a computer and do basic functions then these are easy programs that will not be difficult for them to figure out later. I do agree that introducing technology at an early age is important because in our world today if you cant use it you are missing out and have a major disadvantage. But are there really major advantages to a grade one student knowing how to use Microsoft Office?

Perf's picture

Kids these days are already immersed in technology from smart phones to video games. My third grade students are more engaged in learning when I use technology in most of my lessons. I can even learn techniques from them and I notice that they learn fast just from watching the me using technology. I can ask them to come up to the inter-write board and they already know how to use the tools from watching me use it. I am always amazed at them.

Jessica's picture
Building Confidence in Students, One Child at a Time

Kids becoming Technology Friendly
As we move in the 21st century, children are becoming more and more technology friendly.Computers are becoming more affordable, and it is now an important part of our life. Technology is becoming a great tool for motivating children.Brain research show, that if students are engaged, they learn more. Technolgy has now become a wealth of knowledge, which offers great potential for the speed and style for learning.

Matthew Gudenius's picture
Matthew Gudenius
Teacher, Computer Programmer / Engineer, and Educational Technologist

I have been a computer teacher for the past 8 years, grades K through 9. I can tell you that kids of ANY AGE can and DO learn computer skills, and learn them quickly -- if you teach them. I also know kids are capable of more than "the basics" -- I began programming computers when I was 8 years old.

In primary grades, I use computers for a combination of enrichment games and activities as well as introducing them as productivity tools (for grades K-2 I primarily use KidPix software for this, but have also had them use Word and PowerPoint as young as 1st grade, and I can tell you they are quite capable of doing so.)

I begin no-look touch-type keyboarding training in 3rd grade (some of their hands may be too small prior to this), as well as transitioning from KidPix to PowerPoint in grades 3 and 4, and introduce Excel skills in grades 5 and 6 ... though there's no reason you couldn't do it as young as 2nd or 3rd grade. I am limited by time constraints more than anything else -- I have to teach all 450 students in the school, so I only get each student for 18 hours of instructional time over the course of the whole year!

I'm also disappointed to see how schools are limiting students' technology education by opting to adopt iPads in place of computers, despite the fact that COMPUTER and PRODUCTIVITY skills are what they will need in college and careers... (tablets are all well and good, but they are primarily consumer devices and do not take the place of what you can do with a computer... in fact, I feel so strongly about this that I am making a video series called "Just Say NO to iPads for Education":

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