I think computers can be very useful tools in the classroom. I also agree that they are becoming more affordable and therefore we are coming closer to the age when there will be one on every desk. I also agree with Catherine, however, in that students do need to know other methods of performing research. When a calculator isn't available, you use other methods to go about solving your problem. Computers crash. Electricity goes out. Students should have access to computers but they also should have knowledge of other methods of research and be able to use those skills when computers are not available.
I also worry that, even though computers and certain types of technology are becoming more affordable and therefore more available, the use of computers might alienate certain parts of the population. I am concerned that students in inner-city, rural, and low socio-economic areas will not have the same access, training, and opportunities to use computers as students in more affluent areas. my fear is that these students will be put at even a more disadvantage than their more well to do counterparts.
Amy wrote: the use of computers might alienate certain parts of the population. I am concerned that students in inner-city, rural, and low socio-economic areas will not have the same access, training, and opportunities to use computers as students in more affluent areas.
This is one reason why students should frequently use computers in school. Students might not be able to use computers in their homes but if they can learn computer skills at school they will not be as technologically disadvantaged as their well to do counterparts. Almost all libraries have computers available that these students can use when they are not in school but they first have to learn how and why to use a computer. That happens in the school. Whether they can get to the library or choose to go is another question.
One of the factors that distinguishes lower economic homes from other economic levels is books. Mid to upper socio-economic homes often have lots of books and other reading materials lying around the house. This isn't normally true of low socio-economic homes. That doesn't stop us from using books in schools. Granted you can't give every child a computer to take home, but I think the comparison is still valid. Through books we open a student's mind and expand his world. Through computers we open a student's mind and expand his world.
If we are to educate children so that they can function in the current world and also in the future, students need to be using technology in the schools. The more likely it is that the students do not have access to computers at the home, the more important it is to expose them to computers in the school. At least that is my take on this.