The Benefits of Information Technology in Education

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The present era is an era of technology. Everywhere we are surrounded with technological devices and everyone is somehow familiar with technology. The foundation of all types of technology is laid down in educational institutions. The education in secondary level plays an essential role since it is responsible for the development of society. Therefore, secondary education can be made more effective by the use of technology and all resources made available through technology.

This introduces us to the term 'Educational Technology'. The word was recognised in 1967 with the establishment of National Council for Educational Technology in the United Kingdom. [1] N. Venkataiah in his book Educational Technology noted that "For different reasons educational technology perhaps will perform support or enriching role relative to classroom teaching in college and University rather than serving a replacement for such instruction". [2] Every technology has its merits and limitations and no one technology is useful for all types of learning.

2.2 Benefits of using technology in the learning context

We can talk of many benefits and criticism related to the use of technology in education. First we are going to deal with few advantages of making use of technology in the learning context.

Technology in the learning process can increase students' motivation. Computer based education can give immediate feedback to student and the right answers. Moreover a computer can give student motivation to continue learning, since a computer is patient and non-judgemental. According to James Kulik, who studies the effectiveness of computers used for leaning, students usually gain more in less time when receiving computer-based instructions and they build up more positive approach to the subject learned. [3] The American educator, Cassandra B. Whyte thought that successful academic performance in the future will depend on how computer usage and information technology would become important in the education experience of the future. [4] 

Educational technology provides the way for students to be active participants in their learning and to present differentiated questioning approaches. It expands individualized education and encourages the progress of personalized learning plans. Students are encouraged to use multimedia components and to integrate the knowledge they achieved in innovative ways. [5] 

2.3 Criticism to Learning Technology

Although technology in the classroom does have many benefits, there are clear shortcomings as well. Not having proper training, limited access to enough quantities of a technology, and the additional time required for many running of technology are just a few reasons that technology is often not used widely in the classroom.

Similar to learning a new task, special training is vital to ensure effectiveness when using things like technology. Training is a must when dealing with technology and education. Since technology is not the end goal of technology, but a means to be more effective in learning, educators must having a good grasp of the technology they can use or they are using and its advantages over the traditional means. If there is a lack of training, the use of technology will not give the all the good results that are given when technology is being used correctly.

Another difficulty that which might arose when using technology for teaching/learning is the access to an enough amount of resources. Many teachers use technology by using a projector or screen, to show picture or videos, since there are not enough computers available for the students in order to be used by them and create or use it during the lesson. This also occurs when there is limited amount of access to technology because of high cost of technology and the fear of damages. There other cases when there the inconvenience of resources in such cases, such as having to transport the whole class to a computer lab or media room. [6] 

One of the disadvantages of using technology in education is that it is time consuming. Teachers had to prepare not only their lesson plans but had to prepare these resources using technology, which for teachers not familiar with technology can be a bit of headache.

Another major issue which arise is that technology is too fast evolving. New resources have to be designed whenever the technological platform is changed. Changing for many times is not possible because of expenses and therefore there is the need to train teachers in order to know how to use new technologies. [7] 

But even there are all these disadvantages, one had to continue support the use of technology while investing in training of teachers, creating resources and made them available.

2.4 Technologies of information and their implementation in learning

In this part we are going to deal with some of the technologies of information available that can be used in education. While observing their strengths and weaknesses, we are going to evaluate their implementation in the teaching/learning context.

Interactive Whiteboard

An interactive whiteboard is a large display connected to a projector and a laptop/computer. By using a pen, stylus or finger users can control what is seen on the display through these tools. So, by touching the screen one manages and controls the computer.

Through a pen/stylus the user can calibrate the system if necessary, activate programs, buttons and menus found on the computer which is connected to the interactive whiteboard. If the user wants to enter text, can either make use of on-screen keyboard or else can utilize handwriting by using the pen/stylus.

As technology and software programs are continuing to develop, there is an increase in interactivity, since interactive whiteboards are being supplied with software programs that provide all necessary tools and functions which can give the capacity to produce virtual edition of paper flipcharts with pen and highlighter options. Such software's also include tools like protractors, rulers and compasses to make use of traditional teaching tools, since students are more familiar with and more available to use. [8] 

Interactive whiteboards are being used in many schools as a replacement for the traditional whiteboards or flipcharts or video/media systems. Interactive whiteboards can be used to connect to online shared annotations and drawing environments. The software helps teacher to keep electronic records of their note for later use. Also, teacher can record their instruction which they had done during the lesson on the interactive whiteboard, which can be saved as a digital video format and then can post this material for review and revision by the students. This is an advantage for the students to see a revision of what had been done in school, especially when something was not understood well, when they are absent or when they want to revise for examination. Some software programs used with interactive whiteboards allow also the recording of the teacher's voice. [9] 

Obviously the main advantage of this technology is interactivity as the name reflects. Students also by the help of the teacher can make use of the interactive whiteboard during the lesson, to choose picture, drawing, write and more.

Research by Glover and Miller on the impact of interactive whiteboards in secondary schools, shows that even interactive whiteboards are a technology more than a computer, their use in schools and by teachers reflects that their potential is unrealized. According to the authors of this research the use of interactive whiteboards by teachers is made in three ways: "as an aid to efficiency, as an extension device, and as a transformative device". [10] 

Even if technology always is done for the benefit of humanity and to make life more easer, interactive whiteboards also were criticised by many for diverse reasons. According to the Washington Post article, published in June 11, 2010:

"Many academics question industry-backed studies linking improved test scores to their products. And some go further. They argue that the most ubiquitous device-of-the-future, the interactive whiteboard -- essentially a giant interactive computer screen that is usurping blackboards in classrooms across America -- locks teachers into a 19th-century lecture style of instruction counter to the more collaborative small-group models that many reformers favour." [11] 

The London's Institute of Education in a report on the interactive whiteboards says that, "Although the newness of the technology was initially welcomed by pupils any boost in motivation seems short-lived. Statistical analysis showed no impact on pupil performance in the first year in which departments were fully equipped." [12] The report also emphasize such issues such as the fact that teacher gives more importance to the innovative technology than on what scholars should be learning. It was noted that the focus on interactivity as a mechanical development can lead to everyday activities which were being overestimated and also that in lower-ability classes it would slow the pace of whole class learning since individual pupils took turns at the board. [13] 

Internet

In many countries and homes, the Internet and the World Wide Web in particular can be considered as part of the household and as common household term. This is proven by amount of reference to internet in the daily life and the amount of time which people, especially those who are still studying in schools, spend surfing on the internet. [14] The popularity of internet had made it as an important tool in education both as a great resource and as tool in class.

The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that are accessible to billions of users around the globe. It is a network of networks that is made up of so many networks which are private, public, academic, business and government use. The internet holds a vast range of information resources and services. [15] 

When for the first time teachers were introduced to the internet, there first reaction was about the tremendous educational potentials which exist on the internet. Internet was seen as an instrument to answer the learning needs of many students since it have vast amount of resources. [16] 

The use of internet adds something new, some real value, to teaching. The internet offers a tremendous way of communication between students themselves and with experts regarding the subject they are studying. Moreover students can join groups which discuss their favourite subject to continue enhance their information regarding that particular subject. [17] 

The internet can be a support when teacher using animation, pictures, maps, images and other resources. For example when studying the land in which Jesus lives, to which the student has never been, a virtual tour to some of the landmarks through the internet can make the lesson more attractive and interesting, since they are not only imagining what the teacher is saying about the Holy Land but also seeing how the Holy Land looks like.

The use of internet is in contrast with the use of textbooks. Many of our textbooks can be considered outdated. The use of internet can gives us the opportunity to include current data in our lessons.

On the other side the internet has also its weaknesses. Teaching involves human process that cannot be automated or manufactured. One important instrument of teaching is the human touch, which cannot be replaced. The extreme use of internet and computer lead to lacking of human touch when computer replace teachers. [18] 

Moreover there is no solid confirmation that computers develop positively student's performance, since stories of success are isolated cases. This may result due to time needed for teachers to develop good applications to be used in classrooms. Even if the Internet improves learning, no one is yet to prove that the advantages of teaching using the Internet significantly outweigh the advantages of using other cheaper information media.

Every new technology brings with it positive and negative impact. Nobody has taken time to analyze the negative impact of exposing children to the Internet may have on their social development. [19] 

Microsoft PowerPoint or other presentation software

The use of PowerPoint during teaching has a significant amount of potentialities for encouraging more visual use and more proficient presentations, since one can put text, audio, videos, pictures, graphs and much more. PowerPoint is a widely used presentation programme which had originated in the business world but today had found also a very comfortable place in the world of teaching. The popularity of PowerPoint in educational technology stem directly from one of its famous features, that is, the ease of use, also by those who cannot be considered as experts on computer. [20] 

Good use of PowerPoint enhances the teaching and learning experience of both teachers and the students. This is continuously developing since the Microsoft Corporation which created PowerPoint is endlessly developing and adding more features to its software to make it more easy and professional look like, such as the integration of video clips and words at the same time and the use of the presenters view, in order for whom is doing the presentation to see what comes next or work with other programs at the same time. As well, the templates provided can help to make simple professional look of the presentation in order to be more effective and successful. [21] 

PowerPoint software also gives the accessibility to print what had been shown in the presentation in order for students to have a copy of the presentation shown during the lesson.

Few are those disadvantages when using PowerPoint. An important element when using PowerPoint is the way how teachers should use it when they are making use of it in classrooms. Teacher should give attention to not have large amount of material on one slide which can make difficult for the students to comprehend what the teacher is actually doing in the lesson. [22] 

Video clip

The use of video clips in education is developing very faster, since time has pass on static images and pictures. Today we are developing the idea of movement in pictures and in our presentations. The fact that video editing programs are now available for everyone to use on his personal computer, the trend that is developing is to create videos to enhance more the attention and motivation of the students.

This developing is made easier through websites such as Youtube.com and Vimeo.com, where one can upload his videos while others can see and download for personal use. This innovative idea had created a planet of video resources which can be use for teaching.

2.5 Conclusion

The use of these available technologies and others can make our teaching more effective and interesting. This use of old textbooks and methods of learning are a bit out of this world, since students are all surrounded by this new technologies which are developing very fast. This does not mean that we have to trash all old methods and textbooks but it is important to incorporate technology to make lessons more enjoyable, creative and effective.

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