Computers are increasingly being incorporated into school curriculums. Teachers present processes and concepts using programs such as Powerpoint, and students can utilize visual models and word processor to enhance their learning experience. Are Computers Effective at instructing students to retain information better? Some studies show a dramatic increase in performance while others show that CAI has small to moderate-sized positive effects on achievement (Avrim, 2000). From research, it can be concluded that CAI is best used when it is in addition to the instruction of a teacher and not when it replaces the teacher. The exact implications of computers in the classroom are unclear, but one thing that is apparent is that the outlook of computers in education is promising.
Pros of Educational Technology
The most important aspect of computers in education is that they provide drill and practice for the student. Unlike teacher instruction,which may become tedious over time, computers provide motivation to the student to continue learning (Leu, 2000) Even from preschool, CAI and the experience of a prepared educator led to significant gains in academic pursuit and knowledge (Plowman & Stephen, 2005). Utilizing computers in education makes abstract concepts visible to students who may be discouraged from learning material. In a study by Hurme (2005) on the effectiveness of computers used in problem solving mathematics, he found using computers to be an ideal method of teaching. Computers helped students to "use their mathematical knowledge and stimulate them into making their thinking visible (Hurme,2005)." Tutorial programs, instructional games, problem solving games all serve their purpose in stimulating the minds of children, but the most effective aspect of the computer is the Internet. The internet allows students to access monumental amounts of information, connect with many different cultures, and contains information on every topic imaginable. Students can engage in programs like GLOBE, in which students participate in a national study by collecting and submitting data on local soil samples. Harold Wenglisky (1998) observed the effects of higher technology of fourth and eighth graders and concluded that higher scores were attained and a more positive social climate was established.
Computers are rarely being used to provide basic instruction to students but rather to provide enrichment in subjects originally taught by human instructors. Even today computers play a minor role in education due to ill-prepared teachers, but instruction is needed to provide students with the challenges they will face in America's workforce.
Cons of Educational Technology
Computers in the classroom also come with pitfalls. When new technologies are integrated into the classroom both teachers and students need to become accustomed to it before they can fully reap the benefits. Because of this, "teachers' first technology projects generate excitement but often little content learning. Often it takes a few years until teachers can use technology effectively in core subject areas (Goldman, Cole, & Syer, 1999)." Educators are taking a risk by placing computers in the classroom. According to Woronov (1994), computers themselves do not automatically change the nature of teaching and learning, but that it is the way the teachers use the technology that creates a conducive learning environment. If computers are not used effectively then students lose out on a promising educational experience. Another con of educational technology is that school administrators tend to spend large amounts of money to integrate computers into schools when the effectiveness of programs on students achievement is unclear.
From my investigations, I would conclude that the pros of educational technology outweigh the cons. The promises of educational technology are phenomenal especially in the case of urban school districts. Educators, in my opinion, should be racing to utilize programs that retain children's attention and reinforce methods and concepts taught in class. International competitors are excelling in the areas of math and science, using computers efficiently, and conducting business by means of modern technology. It is essential that our children are taught how to use and learn from computers in order to produce an American society that is up to par with nations worldwide.
Aviram, A. (2000). From "computers in the classroom" to mindful radical adaptation by education systems to the emerging cyber culture. Journal of Educational Change. 1, 331-352.
Hurme. T. (2005). Students' Activity in Computer-Supported Collaborative Problem Solving in Mathematics. International Journal of Computers for Mathematical Learning. 10, 49-73.
Leu, D.J. Jr. (2000). Literacy and technology: Deictic consequences for literacy education in an information age. In M.L. Kamil, P.B. Mosenthal, P.D.Pearson, & R. Barr (Eds.), Handbook of Reading Research: Vol. 3. (743-770). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Plowman, L. Stephen, C. (2005). Children, play, and computers in pre-school education. British Journal of Educational Technology. 36, 145-157.
Woronov, T. (1994). "From the Harvard education letter: Myths about the magic of technology in schools," Education Digest. 12, 15.
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