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Are computer labs in schools public telecenters?*
*The ideas, thoughts, and opinions expressed are not necessarily of the OAS nor of its member states. The opinions expressed are the responsibility of the authors.
They have to produce an Handbook for the student.
A good idea would be to take the same approach that public libraries do. Reduce risk of computer misconduct, misuse, and break down by restricting access on the internet, programs that users are allowed to navigate and use.
The schools community relationship can benefit from sharing the centers, however at levels where the centers are utilised by the community with controls and not in a adhoc manner. There are many program that can be hosted in the schools but can be controled by Non Governmental or other organs. Such programs will have the control of teachers while community members utilise these computer systesm. Being a teach at a small secondary schools (pop = 900), it was realised that the computers was most useful and cherished by community members that the students. Community memeber took better care of these computer systems than the regular students conterparts. Added too that fact, motivating the community for upgrade of labs was another added advantage.
The subject of telecenters, like everything related to educational technology, is a sum of interrelated elements. If the teachers are not well trained, if they don't see a need for the existence of telecenters, little or nothing can be done so that the students and the rest of the community feel involved. You can't start a fire without a spark, or burn a log for that matter.I consider computer labs in schools to be a space where individuals from the community can have access to new technologies.
However, simply opening them is not enough, it is equally important that its users receive training. Frequently, there is either a fear of technology or the belief that it is a panacea. There is a missing piece in this line of thinking, that of human beings. Technology for its own sake, if people have no use for it, makes no sense.
The computers in the schools in my community and I believe in my state in the U.S. are not used in this capacity.
They seem to be only used for students during their academic studies and maybe a little for community projects if the student's club or organization is doing some social project. Oklahoma, the state in which I live, has an extensive network of vocational schools, called Technology Centers, which provide opportunities for computer training for the community at no cost or very low cost. The public libraries also have computers that the community can use to do research and access the internet. I do believe that the computers in the public schools could be put to more efficient use if they were used for community projects. One essential aspect of the computer use would have to be the involvement of the students in the process so that the students could interact with the community and learn from the business people and citizens in a different context then the normal academic classroom.
From what I observe in my own country (Jamaica), computer labs are almost exclusively used by students of the relevant schools. Public access to these facilities are restricted mainly due to wider security issues. Communities in which these schools are situated are not directly involved with these computer centres or labs but indirectly through the students that reside in such communities.
There are cases however, where some schools permit their facilities to be used for information technology training to members of the community.
These classes are normally part of a curriculum leading towards a local or regional examination.
They should have up-to-date search engines that allow the user to find the information that they need in as little time as possible.
The computers should have audio and video resources. By using microphones and cameras they could participate in many events that are delivered on-line.
They could deliver work-training courses in the area of information sciences, such as those that we provide in our school, on topics such as Basic and Advanced Operations, Graphic Design, the Internet, Accounting Assistant, and Computer Skills for the Executive Secretary.
They could be training centers for people with disabilities.
They could be centers for promoting local businesses.
School can be a good place to bring people together who are interested in using information technology and communication tools. Academic centers could deliver access to this technology and training to the community.
Training should be focused on showing potential users how to use the Internet more efficiently (as a means of communication, as a source of information, etc.) It would also be interesting if these centers provided assistance to individuals interested in creating and integrating some kind of virtual community.
Using pratical wayn to teach. By announcing to the community.
Offering computer training, classes at low cost. This helps gauge the community interest in learning how to properly use computers, seek out assistance from local IT techs.
Local community has the advantage of utilising the labs for real life business purposes. They see the computer as a tool for geting some activity done, thus they place regards and respect for this tool by their use, care and small contributions made ( cash or otherwise). Local community is small countries are demonstrating to students a very valuable lesson, that is, the computer is more than a machine for playing games or chatting on the internet. A full intergration of community and school in such venture can provide the balance for sustainability of the labs and equiptment and voluntary security of school premise and equiptment.
The charging of a small fee would allow the user access to these resources
and the institution to keep its equipment updated.
During vacations they should be free-of-charge so that those students who don't travel and the residents of the communities could profit from these services and would be a way to promote the use of these resources.
By organizing fund-raising activities that will contribute to the upkeep of the lab.
Paying a reasonable monthly fee for the courses that are delivered.
Those organizations that increase their productivity by using these centers should donate a percentage of their profits with the goal of contributing to the upkeep and development of the centers.
Although it is the realities outside of schools that occasionally create new missions for them, on occasion it is not viable for schools to respond to these demands, which can then lead to new institutions that make these missions their responsility. At any rate, I think that although it is not an obligation for academic computer centers to be converted into public telecenters, it would be a good opportunity for the school and the community to renew that connection.