The Importance of Computer Technology in Education

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The use of computers in education is a major issue for students in today's generation. Students entering a college or university now have the option of taking many of their courses online. There is a great deal of controversy over this issue because many people believe it will compromise the quality of education. The fact that students can receive an education from their own home is definitely a convenience, but the students usually fail to consider the consequences. Although they will be keeping up with the rest of the world while taking advantage of technological advances they will risk being left behind by their peers because they will actually be compromising their education.

Taking classes online is an option that a growing number of students are taking advantage of. These classes are making the university education available for students who are not able to attend a traditional university or college. They have the option of taking classes online without a major disturbance to their everyday lives. Many parents who want to continue their education find this very helpful, but there are many other students who also take advantage of the education they can receive from their home computer. It seems like a logical decision to take the same classes offered at major universities without the hassle of driving to the campus, changing classes, and trying to arrange a schedule without too much time to kill between classes. What they may fail to consider is that being a full time student in online courses still requires just as much, if not more, time than traditional students spend in class each week. What seemed like a reasonable decision with many options can end up being a disappointment and a hindrance to students.

We live in a world where technology is rapidly increasing, and new discoveries are being made every day. Computers have become a common piece of equipment in homes all over the world. The ability to operate a computer is necessary for entering into the job field. As this computer age takes over, companies are faced with a difficult decision; they can either get rid or old employees who don't have the ability to keep up with the rapid changes in technology, or they can spend a great deal of money to train current employees and keep them up to date. Countless adults have been left behind by this new age. The sad fact is that many adults have children who operate a computer better than they do. The main reason children are oftentimes more familiar with computers than their parents is because were introduced to them at an early age. They are not intimidated by this "new technology" because it isn't new to them. Schools all over the world are equipped with computers for student use. They learn how to type, use basic programs, and occasionally play games. Computer software also makes it possible for students to practice subjects such math without the boring paper and pencil routine. They have benefited the students and teachers a great deal, but they have not replaced the importance of group work, creative thinking exercises, and one on one relationship with teachers and other students.

Traditional teaching styles are still very effective and important to the development of a child into a successful student. Sitting in front of a computer all day and receiving an education online would be unheard of for most students in elementary, middle, or even high school. They would be deprived of interaction with other students. This interaction and the ability to relate to and work with other people help students to develop skills that will be helpful in many aspects of their adult life, including their future jobs. The classroom atmosphere also allows teachers to build relationships with students and determine their strong and weak points. Critical thinking, an important aspect of education can be taught and measured more successfully in the classroom. It is a skill that is measured and evaluated on an individual basis, and it should not be overlooked.

Although the importance of an in-class relationship seems logical and practical, it is often looked at very different when college students are involved. We are thought of as responsible adults who know what is expected, but most university students admit that they were not prepared for the challenges they faced. As a typical student, I can relate to the desire to take the easy way out, but I also understand that the important aspects of my education while I was growing up are still important. Simple observations of an instructor can make a difference in a student's progress. Tutors can often see problems before a student realizes they are having trouble. Because college is such an adaptation from high school, many tutors try to assist their students in making the transition. Without a one on one relationship between the instructor and student, this would be impossible.

Taking courses online also requires students to become familiar with computers, but there are several other factors to a student's success. Most of the courses require well-developed writing skills. Students who don't posses the ability to communicate well through their writing are not likely to do well. To succeed in this form of education a student must be extremely self-motivated and self-disciplined. The courses require a great deal of commitment and discipline that most students do not have until late in the process of their education. There are many obstacles that have to be evaluated and overcome to make online education a benefit to students and professors.

We live in a society of endless advances in technology. Some of them actually hinder success and may have an overall negative effect on society. We are teaching university students to take the easy way out instead of seeking the best opportunities and working up to their potential. Computers are being used to help the education system in many different ways, but it is important to consider the consequences of the rapid increase of online education. These "advances" may be just the opposite. Although technology is advancing, the educators are actually taking a step backwards and making education more difficult and less successful.

How have the changes in educational technology affected the business? What are the positive and negative impacts on students, faculty, and staff?

I will comment on four specific applications that have changed in educational technology as they affect our organization: on-line classes, Internet, research, and presentations.

Online classes are certainly a part of educational technology that has made a huge impact on our organization. In our situation, we provide online classes to students. The educational centre has developed some online classes; others are available by subscription from resources like Adobe. The advantages of online classes are reasonably obvious. Rather than us travelling to the class, the class comes to the student via the Internet. Saucers and Walker (2004) noted the following:

The advantages and disadvantages of online education have been debated in all disciplines and at all levels of the university. Business communication scholars recognize that online learning offers opportunities to reach populations that would otherwise not have access to higher education (McEwen, 2001). Shy students often participate in online discussions when they would not speak up in class (Bowman, 2001). The influence of gender, ethnicity, age, and other factors that play a role in face-to-face communication is reduced (Bowman, 2001).

The greatest disadvantage of an online class is missing the energy and interaction of an in-person class. E-mail communication will never have the same impact or generate the same energy as the intercourse of a regular classroom. Delayed feedback from both teachers and fellow students is far less motivating than the immediate response of on ground classes. Because students are expected to spend similar amounts of time with on ground classes as with online classes, classroom discussions and exchanging ideas are replaced with reading assignments and writing papers.

Computers and the Internet make up the largest general change in education technology. So maybe it would be better if the education is a combination between the usual education and the online education. Presentations or visual aids supporting lectures have also been substantially changed by technology. Demonstrations of computer techniques done live on a computer projector are extremely helpful. They can be used in the class sessions. As software becomes increasingly more sophisticated and complex the learning curve becomes more complex as well. The ability to watch the steps in a software procedure projected live and be able to follow along on a computer lab computer make learning much easier to understand and even entertaining.

Software like PowerPoint allows a teacher to create his or her own professional looking presentations. After a teacher has gained some experience using PowerPoint, presentations can be created very quickly. Images to supplement the presentation can easily be scanned in from magazines and other image sources making them absolutely up to date. (If scanned material is used for educational purposes, teachers are protected from copyright infringement suits by "Fair Use" copyright laws.) The only negative aspect of presentations supported by current technology, that I am aware of, is how it is used. PowerPoint presentations are so easy to make that some teachers are tempted to use them as a script. Simply reading the text of each slide without any additional information or discussion creates an environment that is more contusive to sleeping than participating.

Communication with the students between classes is very important if there is a session only once a week. E-mail on the Internet is an excellent avenue for the student to e-mail or moodle their instructor for comments. Face to face contact and class critiques once a week are fine but additional comments on projects in progress via the Internet, give students full access to the input a tutor can provide.

Computer technologies have transformed the work and work environment in many other sectors of society. They have, and will continue to have the power to create new business formats, products and services, to improve access to information and communication.

Computers offer substantial benefits even to young children and their development and to families as a whole. At the right age, a computer is a wonderful thing that every child deserves to have. Accordingly, if a family can afford a computer without sacrificing other important, traditional childhood experiences, then this environment should contain a computer set-up that can be accessed as easily as books and other playthings and integrated in the family's day-to-day activities in a natural way.