The advent of information technologies has offered entirely new opportunities to educators, who are now able to develop more effective instruction models. At present, scholars are trying to resolve several important questions, which arise in connection with computer-aided education, in particular, they are trying to determine to what extent computers should contribute to educational process. Secondly, it is necessary to understand the role of teacher in electronic environment. How exactly, should he or she act under new conditions? Prior to analyzing this issues, we need to point out that many people look at these innovations with some uncertainty or even anxiety because they believe that information technologies may dehumanize traditional classroom and make the interactions among students less effective. In addition to that teachers are deeply concerned with the possibility that students may hardly communicate with each other, which would make them more isolated.
We will write a custom Essay on Professional Issues in Computing & Education specifically for you
807 certified writers online
On the whole, we may say that these misgivings are not quite groundless, because occasionally in Web-based classrooms, participants are practically left to their own devices, and they cannot ask anyone for assistance. However, we should bear in mind that the outcome depends on the educators who must tailor lessons in an appropriate manner. It is not permissible to presume that computer can act as substitute to a teacher; on the contrary, this device is just a tool that can facilitate both instructors and learners. The major problem is that even now many educators are rather conservative and sometimes even prejudiced in their attitude toward new technologies, claiming that they only distract students attention. Furthermore, they feel rather uncomfortable while using them, and this is probably the underlying cause of their hostility (Elleithy et al 2005, p 45). There is another extreme, some teachers so much rely on information technologies that they begin to neglect their immediate duties, and such behavior is also not acceptable. Again, we need to stress the idea that computer is nothing but an instrument which may used efficiently or inefficiently. As a matter of fact, the question to use or not use is not vital any more, educators and programmers should understand how and when. In order to do it, we need to examine the positive and negative sides of this approach and study its appropriateness to various fields of human activities. Secondly, it is of upmost importance to analyze the reasons why so many teachers are reluctant to employ computers.
As regards the most obvious advantages of computer- aided education, we may mark out several aspects. First and foremost, we should speak about multimedia, combining text, audio, video or animation (Adelsberger et al, 2002, p 76). For a very long time, teachers could not even dream about it. This enables them to design new instruction models. Secondly, multimedia makes the very process of learning more interesting. These technologies are employed in many spheres of education such as for instance, medicine, linguistics, engineering, and so forth. To some extent, computers allow to incorporate theory into practice. Visual means make the material more understandable. Naturally, we cannot claim that this is impossible without information technologies but in electronic environment, the learning resources are much more accessible and less expensive, which is also very important. One cannot possibly deny the fact that some books or journals are very difficult to obtain and very often they are available only in electronic formats. Those people, who underestimate computer-aided education, deprive themselves of new opportunities. Very often, this reluctance can be explained by the lack of proficiency, we should not forget that people of older generation are not always comfortable while using new technologies. This statement should not be regarded as a reproach and it is not a generalization, but the differences between age groups exist and one cannot possible disregard them.
We should not limit the role of computers only to this particular aspect, because there are some other benefits that instructors and students can receive. For example, we should say that with help of IT, a learner can become more autonomous; he or she is able to check one progress, by accessing the necessary website. In addition to that, they may also improve their skills by doing exercises on computer. To some extent, this can be defined as self-education. The major advantage is that it became less time-consuming (Raś et al, 1994, p 28). Nevertheless, it is impossible to argue that teacher must turn into a mere onlooker of events, because there is no machine that can explain complicated ideas or some ethical problems and the educator still plays the dominant role in the process of education, and it is he or she, who provides the stimuli for learning. A student is very unlikely to go into independent or extra studies without proper motivation or encouragement.
Another positive side of computer-aided education is the opportunity to cooperate, while being separated by long distances. The web-based classrooms enable learners from different countries to study together. New means of communication accelerate their interactions. It stand to reason that at present traditional brick and mortar schools or universities cannot be replaced by virtual ones but the computerization of education is a very gradual and arduous process, and people should not expect some revolutionary changes immediately. Many opponents of distance education argue that that such environment is non-productive because there is no flow or exchange of information among the participants. But this obstacle can be overcome; under the condition that due attention is given to the design of a website. If its interface is user-friendly and the members can keep constant updates, no controversy will arouse. In whole, we may state that some novelties have already become so common that we no longer regard them as something extraordinary, for instance, Internet search engines, or electronic libraries. The evolvement of distance education may follow similar pattern.
Moreover, computers facilitate the work of an instructor, especially, if we are speaking about testing or examination. With electronic standardized tests at hand, it is much easier to check the learners progress. In this regard, we should also remember anti-plagiarism software, which helps to ensure academic integrity. Secondly, the educator no longer has to spend so much time on organizational moments such as the distribution of learning material. Nonetheless, it does not necessarily mean that a teacher becomes carefree. He or she has several crucial tasks to fulfill: the instructor must make sure that student utilize the resources they have in their possession. Sometimes, educators, themselves are not fully aware of the new opportunities, and it prevents them from establishing productive relations with learners.
Secondly, it is necessary to establish effective communication in the classroom, learners should be able to share ideas with each other and work together on some problems. Under no circumstances, they must become alienated from each other. In point of fact, any instructor has a very difficult dilemma to resolve, first, to adapt oneself to new environment and at the same time not to let information technologies become the essential factor in the process of education. Scholars usually warn teachers against running to such extreme, because, information technologies should not be regarded as a solution to all the problems, which may emerge during the process of education.
It goes without saying that every phenomenon has its advantages and disadvantages and computer-aided education is not an exception from this rule. There are several limitations of information technologies. They can be subdivided into two groups, internal and external. First, we should not forget that not every person can afford to purchase PC at least in developing countries. Certainly, it is no longer a problem in the United Kingdom, America or Canada but there are some regions where people have practically no opportunity to buy computers. But this is not the fault of developers or educators. In this regard, we may remember another facet of this issue, many training programs require constant access to Internet, and it is not yet possible in some regions. It sounds almost unheard-of for people who live in Western Europe or in the United States, but in some countries this question still remains vital. Due to this fact, many educators are not so optimistic in their treatment of this issue, they fear that implementation of new technologies may not take place in the foreseeable future.
Additionally, we need to pay special attention to the fact that distance learners cannot sometimes collaborate because they may be living in different time zones. The absence of visual contact does not promote effective learning. In a traditional school or college, students can discuss some details or controversial moments after classes, while in digital environment, the time is usually limited. This is one of the main arguments that the opponents advance (Blomeyer et al, 1991, p 68). They state that team projects cannot be successfully carried out in such way. In their opinion, this approach is futile. Yet, we must not disregard the fact, that now humankind is witnessing only the dawn of IT and with time passing they may further evolve. Besides, such software as Skype considerably improves the communication on the Web. Thus, this obstacle is partially conquered.
But this is not the most crucial point. Many educators prefer not to use IT in the classroom because many training programs do not meet academic standards. The thing is that sometimes they emulate already existing textbooks and offer anything new. We have to concur with them because many designers do not intend to create something original, and there is no sense to use information technologies if they substitute traditional textbooks. But this does not downgrade the potential of computers, our inability to utilize new opportunities does not mean that they do not exist.
Another issue, which we should discuss, is the question of applicability. In the overwhelming majority of cases, computer-aided education can be very useful for exact sciences, but it is always appropriate for humanities. Computers can be used for multiple-choice tests but they are not conducive for skill formation or creative thinking (Blomeyer et al, 1991 p 23). At this moment, we cannot dispute the fact that situation still leaves much to be desired but it should be taken into consideration that information technologies are aimed only at improving learning conditions. First, many scholars insist on close collaboration between educators and developers of software, because now their attempts are often separate and consequently they are not as fruitful as they can be. Computerized education has yet to fulfill its potential, the use of multimedia technologies, ability to test ones progress, immediate access to informational resources speak volumes in favor of IT. In this case, our task is to make full use of this capacity.
Certainly, the range of its applicability may vary and computers cannot be used in every sphere of knowledge, sometimes, teachers and students can easily do without them. Again, it is necessary to place emphasis on the idea that informational technologies are not meant to replace educators, such scenario is possible only in science fiction stories. But they offer new opportunities and save time and effort. They provide chance for self-assessment, connect people from different regions or continents, help to test students progress but they cannot possibly act as an instructor. Perhaps, people should not be so exigent. What we have now is just the beginning.
Therefore, we can arrive at the conclusion that the use of information technologies significantly facilitates educational process. First, we should mention the accessibility of learning materials, the ability to check ones progress, and the opportunity to apply multimedia resources, which makes learning and teaching more effective and interesting. Secondly, we can speak about the distance education, which enables students from different countries to cooperate. Yet, there are several drawbacks, namely the cost of information technologies, especially within the context of less advanced countries. Secondly, the limited range of applicability, particularly to humanities. Apart from that many developers of training software just try to copy already-existing manuals but they do not intend to produce anything new. Overall, computer-aided education still requires thorough examination but in theory it is extremely promising.
- Heimo H. Adelsberger, Betty Collis, Jan M. Pawlowski (2002). “Handbook on information technologies for education and training”. Springer.
- Khaled Elleithy, Tarek Sobh (2006). “Advances in Computer, Information, and Systems Sciences, and Engineering: Proceedings of IETA 2005, TeNe 2005 and EIAE 2005”. Springer.
- Robert L. Blomeyer, C. Dianne Martin (1991). “Case studies in computer aided learning”. Taylor & Francis.
- Zbigniew W. Raś, Maria Zemankova (1994). Methodologies for intelligent systems: 8th International Symposium, ISMIS ’94, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA, 1994 : proceedings” Springer.