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School computer *policies and student computer access and use in schools

David Aaron Raker, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This study explores the possible associations between school computer policy and equitable computer access and use in selected public schools.^ The study answers four research questions: (1) What are the various written policies of selected K-12 schools and school districts for student access to and use of computers? (2) How is computer policy for the selected schools established and disseminated? (3) What is the nature of student access to and use of computers in selected schools? (4) How does the nature of student access to and use of computers match the existing written school and/or district computer policy?^ Data were drawn from four samples of populations including five superintendents, 48 school principals, 14 selected teachers, and 21 observed classrooms. Participating educators and schools were all members of the National Coalition For Equality In Learning (NCEL), a diverse coalition of eight school systems from seven states that are dedicated to providing a quality education to all children of all families.^ Findings indicated that a majority of school districts (75%) and a minority of schools (8.3%) have written computer policy. Many policies focused exclusively on allocation of computer equipment, while others also included general and/or more specific statements to influence access and use. Policies in general were developed by committees and distributed through meetings and inservice training. Observation or monitoring were most often utilized to determine teacher adherence to policy mandates.^ Findings indicated that the reality of classroom practice did not always match the existing school/district computer policy. Also, findings suggest that the existence of computer policies in schools did not necessarily ensure greater computer equity. These findings raise serious questions about the effectiveness of policy to facilitate increased computer utilization and greater computer equity in schools.^ Recommendations for practice were proposed. The primary recommendation was to encourage schools and school districts to develop written computer policy which clearly states that all students have equal access to computers. In addition, the computer policy should help guide computer use and not dictate to teachers when and how to use them. The policy should help teachers understand that computers are not to be used exclusively for remedial work and that all students can utilize computers at high levels. ^

Subject Area

Educational administration|Educational technology|Curriculum development

Recommended Citation

Raker, David Aaron, "School computer *policies and student computer access and use in schools" (1997). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9737574.