I graduated from my high school in 2005, and I *still* remember the nightmare of our school "computers". They were locked down, pieces of crap which were expected to last forever, and they were HORRIBLE to use. And guess what! Students hated the machines, hated the chores, and hated the class. I am sure most of them hated the subject, and will continue hating everything to do with using computers for work the rest of their lives.
I'm talking about old ass IBM's with CRT monitors running Windows NT, until FINALLY being upgraded to Windows 2000 around 2005 or so. The actual Windows desktop was in some way disabled, so all we saw was a heavily locked down gray startbar (ugh!), with a blue background, and that was it, you saved to your personal drive on the server.
As many functions as possible were disabled, "oh, we cant have the children slacking off!", so what did we do? We spent all our time finding out what was left, ways to tie into the inbuilt messaging system, in some way manually writing little scripts to send a message to a designated computer, you'd open the file in Notepad, look around the room and count computers, "ok, so Jimmy is sitting one, two, three, four.......FIVE computers down, so thats CR23", you'd type in what you HOPED was the correct computer ID, save the file and then "run" it. A second later, a Windows prompt box would pop up on that computer, do be dismissed with an "ok" button. "I think you're fat and smell bad, ha ha!", "hey, lets skip Science next period" etc, poetry it was not!
When I left in 2005, we were still expected to save on school floppy discs, you know, because floppy discs were not exactly a household item in 2005! ;-) Being a nerd, I had a personal 128MB flash drive which I'd saved up to buy, and other students hated me for using it. One class involved my "special" group having to burn a CD, using the single computer with a 1X CD Writer.......it took literally the best part of an hour, to copy over ~600MB.
Have some damn faith in students! Work *with* them, not against, dont treat them like convicted murderers (I'd also be in favour of rehabilitative work in prisons, treating everyone with respect, but thats another story).
Yes, the computers have since been updated somewhat, but they are no doubt still a joke compared to what most students use at home. Some schools in my area are using iPads, handed out to every student, and they seem to be very successful. The was a trial of multiple devices, notebooks, netbooks etc, and the iPad won for ease of use, battery life, cost, "coolness" *and* usability.
We are days away from 2012, every student has an entry level smartphone, an iPod, perhaps an iPad at home. They have gaming consoles, they use Skype, they use iTunes, YouTube.....so why plonk them down at some ancient, yellowing beige plastic box, with a frigging ball mouse connected via Serial, and do everything you can to make school work miserable?
The best teachers in the world cant work well with crap tools, would the janitors want to only have access to toothbrushes? Its not a matter of "blowing out the budget" on every student, but christ, cant they at least have *functioning* computers, perhaps allowed to use their own netbook/iPad, for schools to have lease programs on standardised netbooks/iPads (including 3G access) for X dollars a week?
Many of the school computers we were expected to use were broken, and the "working" machines were usually vandalised in anger, once a kid booted out of the best school in the area was introduced to "the resident nerds". Within a week, the kid had bought "napalm" to school in an ice cream container, had lobotomized several ancient computers of their hard drives and CPU's, and that left our class with even fewer working machines.
Who you want to teach in this environment? Each hour, to tell the same nonsense to a new class, "ok, we're missing some decade old computers, so share with your neighbours", to have *three* people watching one flickering old CRT, while Excel spreadsheets were used, and classes ending in "ok everyone, turn out your pockets, someones been stealing mouseballs again" ?