In almost every school in Germany it is strongly restricted to use computers. After my opinion this is not in keeping with time. There are many reasons why I am this opinion. First a rising number of homework is better to realize with a computer. The power of text editing or typesetting with a computer for instance is unsurpassed. You can just write your stuff and have a direct feedback if a word is misspelled. After that you can read the text again, make your final corrections easily and send or print it. And the result is perfectly readable. Another advantage at last for me is that I can write much faster with a keyboard than with a pen. Many teachers have also noticed these facts. There are also some tasks that have to be done with a computer. But here you can see the conflict. I am not allowed to get my work done effectively at school. This is illogical. Computers are used in so many sectors today. And using computers is a prerequisite for many jobs.

It is clear that using a general purpose computer needs a certain degree of responsibility and media savvy. Because of that I don’t think that using a computer should be allowed in general. But it should be permitted for all pupils above a certain class. For now I would suggest that using computers outside the lessons for pupils should be tenable from class ten. In the future this age will probably be lowered because computers will become more and more important and because computer technology will be used increasingly.

Another nice use is to learn vocabulary or more precisely relations with a computer. This is far more effective for me because I don’t learn anything like that just by reading new words. So it’s a nice thing for me to write them and get a feedback immediately. There are some more advantages for example learning with the Leitner system. These features are all implemented by the open source software Parley, which I could recommend for those tasks.

You might think that all these tasks should be doable in the computer room in school. Well, theoretically they are, but there are a few problems. One thing is that at least our computer room is almost always locked and when you ask a teacher to unlock it you will probably get an answer like “Ask someone else” or “I haven’t got the permission for unlocking”. Another point is that this solution won’t scale as good as if pupils could use there own computers, because at least at my school there are only around 15 computers. So I would prefer using my own computer. And maybe in a couple of years wireless Internet will also be available.

I will finish this article by having a look at universities. As far as I know, there is no restriction at all for using computers, even in a lecture you can use a laptop to write down the main points or something else. I think this fact should also support my opinion.

A German translation can be found here.