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Thursday, September 9, 1999 Published at 11:14 GMT 12:14 UK


Education

Children fail to learn from home computers

Children gain most from using computers in school

Children using computers at home are not making use of their educational potential, say researchers.

Although many parents buy computers for their children to help with schoolwork, researchers from the University of Loughborough have found that children are "not getting the most from the learning opportunities".

The research, based on observations of children aged seven to eleven, has found that children learn more from using computers at school than at home.


[ image: Children need the support of adults in using educational software]
Children need the support of adults in using educational software
At school, children have the supervision of a teacher and the support of using computers in pairs or in small groups - but researchers found that children at home used computers alone and without the necessary guidance of an adult.

Work put on display

Researchers also found greater rewards for using computers constructively at school - with pictures and written work put on display in the classroom, while work produced on home computers was only rarely acknowledged.

The research, which is to be presented to the British Psychological Society's annual conference at the University of Nottingham, says that software for children's use at home should be designed to encourage more adult involvement.

"If software were to be designed to incorporate more adult participation children's learning could become a richer experience," said researcher Charles Cook.

Although advertising for computers and software often showed a child and parent working together on a computer, in practice it was more likely that a child would be working on a computer alone and without adult guidance, say the researchers.



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