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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 December, 2002, 17:58 GMT
Mr Chips or Microchips?
Children sharing a Lap Top Computer
Do computers really help children to a better education?

Computers have been hailed as the transformers of education, a dazzling technology that changes the whole nature of learning, reduces the burdens on teachers and equips everyone for the modern economy.

Yet disturbing evidence is emerging that computers may harm, rather than help, educational progress. There is still much debate among even the most enthusiastic supporters of high technology about how computers can best be used.

In Mr Chips or Microchips? Frances Cairncross talks to leading experts on both sides of the Atlantic, including Professor Sherry Turkle of MIT, Yasmin Valli of Leeds Metropolitan University and Robin Reynolds of the UK government's education agency BECTA.

She examines what computerised education means in practice, and how it relates to traditional educational priorities in numeracy and literacy.

She hears how computers used imaginatively can help special groups succeed where more conventional education fails them.

But hears of classroom problems when internet surfing runs wild, and how, despite the hype, traditional educational skills are more important than ever if we are to make the most of new technology.

Presenter: Frances Cairncross
Producer: Chris Bowlby
Editor: Nicola Meyrick

BBC Radio 4's Analysis: 'Mr Chips or Microchips?' was broadcast on Thursday, 26 December 2002 at 2030 GMT.




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18 Dec 02  |  Analysis


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