Academic journal article Education

The Status of the Use of Computers in Education in the Beirut, Lebanon Private Schools

Academic journal article Education

The Status of the Use of Computers in Education in the Beirut, Lebanon Private Schools

Article excerpt

Introduction

Computerization, as a concept, has unlimited potential for exponential growth and power to completely change the way mankind communicates. The eventual impact of computers upon civilization and communication, will alter civilization even more rapidly and comprehensively than the introduction printing press did. In 1962 (and again in 1983) Everett Rogers refined his Theory of the Processes of Diffusion and the Adoption of Innovations. Rogers' theory is that individual 'selective exposure' to a degree of uncertainty in the communicated message of the 'newness' of an idea is the major factor in diffusion. The Adoption of Innovation, such as the decision to introduce computers into schools, is based upon the individual and the social system characteristics of the previous, established method of doing things. This is independent of the initial adoption decision. This process of adoption - decision occurs in five stages: Knowledge - introduction of the innovation and the progressive understanding of its functions; Persuasion - formation of attitudes toward the innovation; Decision - engagement in activities that either lead to adoption or rejection of the innovation; implementation - initiation of applications for specific uses; confirmation - (individual, collective or Central Authority) reinforcement of the decision to adopt or reject the innovation.

The computer is and has been a technological chameleon, ever changing and adapting to the expressed demands of the contemporary world of communication. The overall impact, practical relevance and utilization of the computer, in itself, as well as, its capacity as a tool for enhancing education in all subject areas, is virtually unlimited - but it is a new idea.

This study surveys and examines the current status of the implementation of computers in the Lebanon, Greater Beirut area Private Schools. The findings of this study are based on the combined instruments of questionnaires, interviews and related documents. They reveal to what degree the implementation of computer concepts, knowledge, skills and use has already achieved, is paralleling, is approaching, or is falling short, of the original goals, objectives and purposes that motivated and guided the initial introduction of computers, as an integral part of the whole educational curriculum. This study also compares the status and problems, related to the implementation of computer use in education in Beirut, with those presently being experienced by other countries, in the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific Region. Recommendations are given that can assist with the implementation of computer use in schools. The results of this study will be useful in the eventual implementation of computers into the Lebanon Public School system, and in other countries as well.

Methodology

The basis for this study was a sample of 206 (50%) of the 411 Private Schools, located in the Greater Beirut area. Questionnaires were administered, randomly, in the Summer and Fall of 1994, to 206 of the Greater Beirut Private Schools. Because 162 (78.64%) of the 206 Private Schools selected, promptly answered and returned the original questionnaire, it can be inferred that the study is relevant to the problems that surround the implementation of computers into schools.

Study Findings

The following are some of the most outstanding findings gleaned from the responses to the questionnaires by the Lebanon Greater Beirut Area Private Schools:

1. The implementation of computer use into the schools must be based on clearly defined educational objectives, that accommodate the aptitudes and long-range plans of the students.

2. The implementation of computer use into the schools is facing the following problems:

A) a serious lack of basic funding for the initial purchase of hardware, as well as insufficient funds necessary for up-grading and on-going maintenance.

B) the dearth of qualified, adequately computer-trained classroom teachers and teachers-in-charge of computers

C) the absence of governmental programs for the encouragement and support of computers in education

D) the introduction of computers is still too recent to properly assess the impact of implementation

E) the small sizes of the schools at the Kindergarten and Elementary levels

3. …

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