The use of computer technology in the educational field has grown tremendously in the last forty years. Using computer technologies can be very beneficial in the learning process for students, as well as trainees in the training process.
Benefits of Computer Technology in Education and Training
One can see how computer technology plays a vital role in the field of education. With the constant development of new technology, it becomes more significant in helping out students in the classroom and training students for specific jobs. Some important uses of computer technology for education and training purposes are computers, computer software, and simulation programs. These technologies are helpful learning tools because they can do an excellent job in training and educating students, which would not be possible without these technologies. Because computer technology is being integrated more in the educational field, it is crucial for education and training purposes.
Computer technology has only been around in education and part of schools for about forty-five years now ("History, the history," n.d.). At first, computer technology was not used specifically in classrooms, but it was used by administrators in schools. This happened in 1965, when the Elementary and Secondary Education Act brought money into schools for computer technologies, such as minicomputers and mainframes ("History, the history," n.d.). Only some schools got minicomputers and mainframes and they were mostly used by the administration to store information about students on databases. As computers and other technologies became more accessible to schools, schools started to use them for educational purposes. In 1986, twenty-five percent of high schools used PCs for college and career guidance ("History, the history," n.d.). Eventually, schools started to use PCs in the classrooms a lot more when computers began to be considered as a household item for the typical family. About two-thirds of public schools had Internet access by 1996, and by 2003, virtually every public school had Internet access ("Technology in education," 2004). This shows that the growth of computer technology was becoming very significant to schools and would keep on growing. Between the years 1997 and 2007, the Internet became the world's largest database of information available to society ("History, the history," n.d.). Having access to the Internet and its unlimited supply of information, allows students to find information rapidly with just the click of a button.
One computer technology that is helpful and used heavily in classrooms to help students learn are projectors. Projectors are a great learning tool because teachers can use them to display their presentations on to the wall. Being able to project their lecture on the wall allows the teacher to cover more material and provides the students with a visual learning experience. Since most students are visual learners, the use of projectors allows them to comprehend and understand the material better. According to an article on learning styles on Michigan State University's website, about sixty-five percent of the population are visual learners and they need to see what they are learning ("Learning styles," 2006). Since approximately two-thirds of the population consists of visual learners, educators should provide all students with a visual learning experience because those students are the majority. For example, if the majority of both the House of Representatives and Senate pass a law, it becomes a law whether the minority likes it or not. Due to the use of majorities to come to decision, majority should be applied to educational decisions as well.
Computer technologies, such as computer software programs, can be beneficial to the education process as well. Salend (2009) states that "technology based classroom assessments focus on the use of technology by teachers and students to create learning productsâ€¦and examine students' strengths and challenges and the outcomes of daily classroom instructional and social activities" (p. 49). By having software programs that are able to do this, teachers are able to provide more assistance to students in the classroom. Teachers can determine where a student needs more guidance and then help them improve in that particular area. For example, teachers use technology-based active responding systems also known as clickers. These systems are used to make teacher's presentations more interesting and interactive for the students (Salend, 2009). Since every student has a clicker it will help them pay attention in the classroom more than they usually do because they have to respond by clicking a button. Teachers can use these wireless clickers for quizzes and tests (Salend, 2009). After the questions are completed by all of the students, results are available for the teacher instantaneously. This enables teachers to use the results as feedback on how well their students understand the material covered on the set of questions. The results the teachers receive allow them to spend time with the students who need the most assistance. Lastly, these clickers allow the students to ask questions silently and the teachers can respond back without anyone knowing. This benefits both teachers and students, especially those students who are shy and afraid to ask questions (Salend, 2009). This exemplifies that computer software programs, such as the clickers, assist the students in the learning process and gets them to pay attention, but also allows the teachers to know which students need more assistance in the classroom.
Computer simulations are not only used in the classroom. In fact, the medical field uses computer simulations to train and educate people who are furthering their career in the medical field to perform procedures, such as surgery. Jacqueline Jeffrey explains in her research article, Medical Simulation: A Growing Medical Teaching Method and Field of Research, how computer technology is used to train and educate people going into the medical field. According to Jeffrey (2007) she states that medical simulation is "a type of training where a controlled environment is created for the learner to practice tasks using high tech robotic models, low tech models or computerized virtual reality" (p. 105). The three different types of medical simulations are High Fidelity-High Technology, Task Trainer Model-Low Technology, and Virtual Reality. High Fidelity-High Technology allows students to work on a robotic mannequin that simulates numerous human conditions, which authorizes the instructor to test the student's skills (Jeffrey, 2007). Smaller models of specific body systems lets students perform procedures like drawing blood or inserting a chest tube is Task Trainer Model-Low Technology (Jeffrey, 2007). Lastly, Virtual Reality is a computer program that projects an image of the operation the student has to perform and the student uses tools as if they were actually performing medical assistance on a patient (Jeffrey, 2007). If students have access to all three of these powerful and effective medical simulations, it keeps them from practicing on humans before they are ready to perform on a patient. As a result, the error rate on medical tasks is minimal. According to Steven Dawson at Massachusetts General Hospital, "In a simulator, mistakes have no consequence other than to serve as markers of achievement: as a physician or other medical caregiver learns a procedure, errors should diminish and skill should improve." This is crucial because medical procedures will be more successful and beneficial to the people of society. For instance, if a person needed medical treatment they will not have to worry because students are trained well because they have experience with medical simulations.
In order for the students to fully experience a medical situation and develop the skills required to perform a real life medical operation, the instructor makes the environment of the medical simulation appear real. For example, they can make the environment a hospital surgery room, the scene of a car accident, or a disaster drill. It is very important for the learner to practice in a situation that they potentially face in real life (Jeffrey, 2007). The one performing the medical operation will not be nervous and will not panic because the medical simulation made the experience seem like a real life situation, so when they work on the patient, they can operate successfully. Since the medical simulation teaching technique has become accepted in the surgery specialty, the Food and Drug Administration has currently made it a requirement for physicians learning to perform carotid stenting to complete this medical simulation training (Jeffrey, 2007). Because of this requirement by the Food and Drug Administration, it is clear that medical simulation is successful in training and educating medical students. Lastly, the United States government has become involved in medical simulation. The government created a group called Advanced Initiatives In Medical Simulation (AIMS) to promote the importance of medical simulations. Advanced Initiatives In Medical Simulation promotes that medical simulation helps improve patient safety, reduce medical errors, ensure provider competency, train people to respond to public emergencies and combat situations, and reduce health care costs (Jeffrey, 2007). This clearly depicts that medical simulation is important to the medical field and to society because the students are trained well and the society benefits from it as well.
Computer simulations are widely used to help train and educate people in businesses and corporations. One way computer simulations are used to train and educate people is at United Parcel Service, commonly known as UPS. Currently, this training only takes place at the Atlanta based UPS, but Chicago will open up a place to train UPS drivers with this computer simulation as well. In order to train the new employees on how to drive the delivery trucks, UPS drivers are trained by playing a video game. This video game allows them to have a place in the driver's seat and they have to identify obstacles they come across. Levitz (2010) asserts that "they progress from computer simulations to "Clarksville," a village of miniature houses and faux businesses on the property where they drive a real truck and must successfully execute five deliveries in nineteen minutes" (p. 1). Presently, the new training methods with the computer simulation are proving to be successful. Before the computer simulation video game was used, about thirty percent of drivers failed the traditional training, but in 2007, after the video game simulation training went into effect, only ten percent of the trainees failed (Levitz, 2010). That is a twenty percent drop of people who failed the original training to people who failed the computer simulation training. It is evident that the new training method is very successful. As a result of this success, UPS has decided to spread the computer simulation training to another location. According to Allen Hill, UPS's senior vice president of human resources, "we've enhanced the probability of success of these new drivers by using the technology and hands-on learning." With the success rate of computer simulation for training it will keep training off the roads and make them safe until employees are fully trained.
UPS is not the only company using these new training tools. Sodexo Inc., a food service company, has recruited chefs through Second Life virtual job fairs (Levitz, 2010). According to Second life (n.d.) the definition of Second Life "is a virtual world on the Internet where people create a virtual character and are able to interact with other virtual characters, buy land, and build their own environment." Some companies, such as Sodexo Inc., use Second Life to interview people for a job position instead of having them go to the office building for the interview. Since multiple companies use this computer simulation software to train its employees, it is clear that it is very successful in training employees and hiring employees.
Second Life has another use besides interviewing employees. Anyone can be part of the virtual world on Second Life by simply downloading the software and then create a virtual character. Some colleges and faculty at schools typically use Second Life for academic intentions ("7 things you," 2008). The virtual world Second Life allows the students to interact with faculty without the students being present in a classroom or office with the teacher. In 7 things you should know aboutâ€¦ Second Life (2008) it states that "many faculty have begun teaching distance courses in-world, saying that the sense of presence and interaction among a class of remote students is more compelling than through other modes of communication" (p. 1). Since many students have access to a computer they might be more interested in a virtual world where they can learn without going to a classroom. Any academic field can be learned through Second Life, but the ones most commonly taught through Second Life are foreign-languages and 3D modeling because of the tools and experiences Second Life provides to the educator ("7 things you," 2008). Second Life helps students learn through a virtual world, but it also encourages students to build teamwork skills, explore on their own, and learn on their own. By having computer simulation software that allows students to learn without going to class, students will learn better because children are already hooked on computer technology and prefer this learning experience over the traditional classroom lecture.
Computer technology is used in fast food restaurants to train employees as well. In Fast Food Nation, written by Eric Schlosser, he talks about fast food in the United States and how it got to where it is today. One part of the book, Schlosser mentions how employees are trained and use computer technology to take orders or cook food. The cooking instructions at fast food restaurants are not just printed in the manuals, but they are programmed into the machines (Schlosser, 2005). This allows for easy training when new employees are trained to prepare and cook fast food. The new employees will not have to go through a long training session and they can learn how to work everything more efficiently. Also, at the front counter of fast food restaurants cash registers are computerized, which issue their own commands and tell the cashier what to do (Schlosser, 2005). When an order is placed the employee inputs what the customer ordered and it shows up for the other employees to see who are preparing the food. All of the computer technology in the fast food restaurant works in a chain to prepare and cook food and to train the employees.
The use of computer technology in society seems to bother people because children have a tendency to spend time using computers to surf the Internet and chat with friends, rather than focus on their school work. People think that this makes our generation "dumb" because children are not spending the time they should on their studies. Also, people claim that the youth use computers only for entertainment purposes, instead of for educational purposes. According to Mark Bauerlein, author of The Dumbest Generation, he claims our generation is "dumb" because our society is surrounded by numerous technologies and the technologies are not used for the right reasons. As technology infiltrates the society children do not care about important information. The technologies become more important to them for entertainment purposes and not for useful information. Bauerlein attempts to prove his point by showing how the technologies are abused and how technology makes our generation behave.
Throughout the book, Bauerlein makes arguments why he believes our generation is "dumb." Bauerlein describes our generation is "dumb" because of knowledge deficits, reading less, screen time, and learning versus actually learning. One example is children read less than they did about thirty years ago (Bauerlein, 2008). According to the literary rates Bauerlein mentions in 1982 eighteen to twenty-four year olds was 59.8, but in 2002 it dropped to 42.8 (Baulerlein, 2008). This significant drop shows that technology is a reason behind this because over the last thirty years technology has grown tremendously. The eighteen to twenty-four year old age drop is targeted because they grew up with the growth of technology, so they are more intrigued and distracted by it.
Bauerlein also points out that test scores are decreasing and they care more about themselves and do not care about their studies. According to Bauerlein (2008) states that "their interests lead them in polar directions, their knowledge running to zero in areas of civics, history, etc., while rising to panoramic grasp of the lives of celebrities, the lyrics of pop music, and MySpace profiling" (p. 42). This describes how the millennial generation does not care for the basic knowledge they learn or already know. Instead, they rather follow celebrity's lives, listen to music, and stay connected to their social networking page. Children these days always have their faces buried in whatever technology device they can get a hold of and worry about school work and studies last. With the excessive amounts of technology use, children read less and have more screen time.
This leads into the Narcissim Epidemic written by Jean M. Twenge and W. Keith Campbell. Twenge and Campbell describe how our generation is narcissistic and what the causes of narcissism are. One specific example in the book that ties into computer technology and why our generation is "dumb" is when the authors talk about social networking sites. They believe that social networking sites make children narcissistic because children can make themselves look superior and boast about it. Twenge and Campbell (2009) state that "these are the behaviors and traits consistent with narcissism, such as partying, looking hot, having a good-looking boyfriend or girlfriend, or winning a competition" (p. 113). Since children are so caught up in their social networking profiles to feel worthy and better than everyone else, they do not worry about school work and their education. According to Twenge and Campbell (2009) they say that "it is very rare to mention how much you like history class on MySpace" (p. 113). This evidently portrays that children do not care about education that much and instead they rather care more about their image and reputation.
Even though Bauerlein makes very valid points explaining why he believes our generation is "dumb", it is not necessarily the technology's fault. The children have the choice whether they want to use it in a beneficial way. Computer technology does not force them to be "dumb" or to not do their homework. The children make the choice whether they should do their homework or if they should stay connected to their social networking page all day chatting with friends. Bauerlein is very harsh on the children of today's generation and does not argue the other side saying how technology can be beneficial. Also, he does not state any solutions that might be helpful to keep these children from becoming "dumb" from all of these technologies. Just because tests scores dropped a little and people are reading less, does not mean our generation is getting "dumb" from technology.
In conclusion, computer technology such as computers, computer software, and simulation programs can be beneficial in the education and training process in the educational field. If computer technology is used in the right ways, children can benefit off it to learn and be educated for a lot of important purposes. The computer technologies can help children in the classroom learn with the use of projectors, as well as clickers, which can assist the students and teachers. Also, computer technologies train truck drivers at UPS and students who are going into the medical field. These are successful and beneficial because the trainees still get the hands on and environmental feel without doing the actual procedure or task, which prevents harm to society. In addition, computer software such as Second Life, can educate students all over the world with a virtual world interaction. Lastly, with all of these important computer technologies in society, they can be very beneficial in the education field because they will help students and trainees for education and training purposes.