How Computers Are Used in Education for Elementary School

By Edward Mercer

It's never too early for students to develop basic computer skills.
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In a world increasingly dominated by technology, basic computer literacy is an important professional and personal skill for students to develop, even at the earliest levels of education. Integrating computers into daily instructional activities in elementary schools gives students basic familiarity with the devices and prepares them for higher levels of education and jobs that require advanced computer skills, especially in the case of students who do not have computers at home. Beyond building computer literacy, computers can also be used at the elementary school level to complement traditional subject areas and create more engaging curricula.

Computer-Based Learning

Computer-based learning (CBL) refers to any teaching methodology that makes use of computers for information transmission or input. At an elementary school level, computer applications can be used to display multimedia lesson plans or students can input examination answers into a computer to facilitate grading and evaluation. Multimedia formats and applications that allow students to pause content are especially valuable in early childhood education especially since students are coming to school with different competencies, learning styles and speeds for absorbing information.

Research and Communication

Preparing students for more comprehensive research projects in later levels of education, basic research tasks like consulting online references, reviewing online newspapers and looking for data in online databases are all made easier with Internet-connected computers -- especially in elementary schools without large on-site libraries. The ease with which digital data files can be sent to numerous recipients also simplifies tasks like turning in work, communicating with parents and teachers or collaborating with fellow students on group projects.

Advanced Skills

While elementary school may seem early to teach students about computer programming, an early start helps students interested in computer science develop basic skills and gives all students a deeper understanding of how computers work. Several programming languages and packages designed for beginners or early childhood education -- such as BASIC, LOGO and some simple HTML codes -- make the process as approachable and visual as possible. LOGO, for example, allows students to manipulate a simple shape with commands that also teach them some basic geometry.

Special Needs Education

The ability to pause lesson plans, display content in diverse multimedia formats and update information is especially important in elementary schools teaching special needs education where students have a wide range of physical, mental and behavioral competencies. Interacting with computers gives these students a personally-tailored lesson plan and individual attention when an instructor is not able to provide the same level of personal interaction. In extreme cases of physical or mental disabilities, students can even use computers to express themselves or see information in ways that would be impossible with traditional teaching methods.