Give them a screen…another way of learning.
Some colleagues i forwarded this to, emailed their answers back to me! So rather than waste their words, I'll send them to you.
"An Indian benefactor put a computer in a hole in the wall in the slums of one Indian city.
In something like 5 months, he returned and many of the children had taught themselves English, accessed what they could on the computer and told him there was something wrong that he`d have to do this and that to get it fixed.
The presentation is on TED somewhere. A brilliant watch."
- Wendy Watson
"I’d say ….”so children shouldn’t have a book unless they can read or a pencil unless they can write? They are all tools”
- Lorraine Taylor
Does it depend on what structures there are around the use of the screen and what the student themselves are like? For instance if they spend 24/7 playing flash games we might want to be a little more cautious about how we let them use the it then if they were the kind of person who read books under the covers at night with a torch till all hours of the morning.
Also, we could just cunningly gave them a screen without a power cable or anything to plug it into. That seems a bit cruel though...
For some children, it is a way of reaching them when nothing else seems to work. Had a child a few years ago with an oral language age of 2. Told me his story in one word - after a term at schol. Yet once we got laptops in the classroom, he became the expert at finding a song on you tube - because it meant something to him.
For some children they are virtual learners, sometimes it is the only form of communication that they are comfortable with. Finding a balance between a screen, book, writing in your daily programme can work. You can always use the screen as an incentive, i would like you to write a short sentence or story & you can type your final copy on the computer.
My answer would be: Why?
I agree with the above comments, a screen can provide the on-ramp, can be the tool to make learning accessible, can even replace the teacher as in Sugata Mitra's Hole in the Wall experiment (full video of his TED talk here, cut version - good for staff meetings - here).
My 5c worth :)