According to Beatty (1991), educational computing is a situation where computers are integrated into the learning curriculum of students in their learning institutions. In the modern world, the use of computers is viewed as a basic need and not a luxury since they have been found to lay a foundation for economic growth. For success in commerce and markets, computing needs to be employed in learning institutions. Education systems should therefore provide computer literacy to students who will then become technically competent. Computers have also been found to be the solution to various educational irregularities in learning institutions. This is because; learning with the aid of computers improves a number of areas of learning, among them being; scores attained by students, standards of education, and reduction of average time used in teaching. Computers are introduced in learning institutions by the combined efforts of parents, school administration, teachers as well as governments through the education ministry. Roles played by computing in learning institutions result in changes in other sectors due to its flexibility.
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Introduction to Microcomputers
According to Bullough (1991), the integration of microcomputers in learning curriculums is one area that has received increased attention as part of developments being done to computer literacy that was introduced in the 1980s. This is as a result of the potentiality of microcomputers to restructure as well as reform learning curriculum in schools. It has been found that microcomputers have the ability to help schools in various functions at their teaching as well as administrative levels, which will eventually be to the benefit of students. More specifically, microcomputers assist students in tackling problems in subjects taught in schools like sciences and mathematics, which allow students to keep up with developments in the information sector.
Roles of Computers in Education
According to Bielefeldt (1995), computers play essential roles in educational settings where both the students and their teachers benefit from these roles. The level of technology that comes with computing motivates students, which makes them enjoy learning. It is only when educational systems appreciate this and more important roles played by technology in the form of computers that they can succeed and benefit from it. These roles include; provision of Computer Literacy which is the primary role of the introduction of computing in educational settings. Here, students learn the basic elements of computing as well as its uses. It is after being introduced to these important roles that students appreciate using computers as their learning tools. They also get to know how to operate various computing software like spreadsheets, communications, word processors as well as the database. Computer literacy is essential as it helps students understand new courses that require computing and research where information has to be searched from the internet. (Boyd, 1990)
According to Bullough (1991), computing allows students to get learning instructions through computers rather than directly from their teachers. This is provided by software that allows tutorials to be conducted through computer programs. This makes learning more efficient as students can access learning instructions beyond their classrooms. Therefore, they can be able to learn in the absence of their teachers as they get similar instructions from the computers, like the ones that would have been provided physically by their teachers.
The second role of computing in educational settings is the provision of assistance to teachers who make use of computers to assist students in class. This is where teachers use various technological provisions like PowerPoint to display information on screens for every student to follow. This results in a better understanding of the contents being taught in class. Teachers make use of computers to keep students’ records which makes tracking of their grades easier. Assignments, as well as handouts, are also easily prepared with the use of computing by teachers (Dawes, 1991).
The third role of computing in educational settings is the provision of assistance to students where Goodwin (1990) found that computers may be occasionally employed by students to divert from the tiresome classroom lessons. This may be in the form of interactive games, which may be integrated by teachers in order to explain or emphasize on challenging issues of particular courses. Students may also make use of computers in situations where they need to perform analysis for experiments of science related courses. Data that had been logged into computers can later be manipulated to provide less complicated data for application in humanities. Computing has been found to allow students to carry softcopy learning materials from their teachers, which they use for their practice at home.
Fourthly, computing assists in management where managers of educational institutions run their duties and keep track of events that take place in the learning institutions. This involves keeping track of each and every student’s record, where both grades portraying performance trends as well as behaviour codes are recorded. Computing is very important in this particular case as data of a large number of students in an institution may be voluminous which may not be effectively stored in hardcopies. Learning and co-curricular activities’ schedules are prepared using computers where students get to access them from their institutions’ websites. This makes passing information to students easy as they do not have to be assembled every now and then or look up in their notice boards for announcements (Jay, 1999).
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Telecommunication and Education
Telecommunication is one of the important applications of computers in education as it enables students to get information that is beyond the boundaries of their schools. Telecommunication also enables students to collaborate and share valuable information with other students so as to increase their level of knowledge. This technology of telecommunication has been achieved through the connection of computers with internet services which allows communication to take place between students and other sources. Telecommunication also assists students and their teachers to upgrade the schools’ learning curriculum to more sophisticated and technology oriented.
Word Processing In Education
Word processing is a provision of the available computer applications which has registered positive effects in education. Students use word processing to enhance their already possessed computer skills in learning processes. The necessity of incorporation of word processing in education has been emphasized by its level of flexibility since a wide range of instructions can be carried out through word processing. Some functions of word processing that are of importance in education include enhancement of the way documents appear where this particular software produces polished materials unlike those produced through typing or handwriting. Word processing also enables students to share documents and ideas on disks which they then modify to serve their educational needs. Word processing helps students and their teachers to save time as it allows modification of documents instead of preparing new ones. Other provisions of word processor enables students in the creation and modification of web pages, correction of spellings in completed work, transfer of materials from one location to another through copying as well as storing of voluminous documents. Therefore, word processing has very essential roles in education which should be incorporated in education systems. (Jay, 1999)
Database and Spreadsheets
According to Michael (1998), spreadsheets as well as database are other computer software that assists students in data manipulation. Introduction of spreadsheet and database in education has simplified work that needs data entry and other data manipulations. These two are applied in Microsoft Excel and Access, which are then integrated in other programs of Microsoft office. Spreadsheets form pages of databases which are very convenient to students and their teachers in situations where they have to deal with data. Spreadsheets are comprised of rows, cells, and columns, which allows the creation of tables by students during data collection.
Headings are placed in columns where different categories are entered while rows accommodate available data for the respective categories. Cells contain a single data entry for a particular category which is related in one way or another with other entries of the same row. When transformed to database, specific data entries become records while categories become fields. Introduction of spreadsheets and databases should enable students to integrate them in learning so as to allow a more classified presentation of data. It has been noted that educational settings do better with spreadsheets though databases should also be learnt since they are a necessity in the society where students are expected to apply their learnt knowledge.
Integration of computing in educational settings has enabled students to conduct problem solving in various subjects more effectively. Mathematics and some sciences like physics require a lot of problem solving where computers have been found to assist. The available computer software has made problem solving possible where spreadsheets and databases are most commonly used in educational settings. A number of steps are followed while carrying out problem solving in educational settings using computers. The first step is the identification of tasks where a need or problem to be solved is identified as well as data that needs to be collected. Here, connection of internet services allows students to perform computer brainstorming so as to come up with a proper problem identification and definition. The second step involves the collection of data from various sources, among them being internet sources. This is then followed by the synthesis of the collected information by analyzing it using computer software like word processor and database. Therefore, computers allow a very effective practice of problem solving by students in educational settings. (Beatty, 1991)
Overview of Research Issues in Educational Computing
A large number of researches have and are still been conducted on the issue of educational computing since more needs to be done so as to have an efficient integration of computers in educational settings. Among the areas of educational computing where research should been carried includes applications of educational computing as well as the resultant effects. Various effects of educational computing are collected from experiences of students and their teachers in situations where they have integrated computing in learning. Research on this area covers outcome effects so as to identify areas where educational computing needs improvement so as to attain more positive impacts. Another area of research in educational computing is the development of an appropriate design of computer software as well as hardware which should allow a wide range of innovation by teachers and students in educational settings. These research issues are directed to the improvement of the situation of computing in educational settings. (Michael, 1998)
How the Introduction of Computers Might Have Changed the Educative Experience of the Students
Roles played by the introduction of computing in educational settings equip students with diverse knowledge that makes them culturally as well as commercially competent in the cooperate market upon completion of studies. Computers have allowed students to appreciate different types of software and programs made available to them, which make learning easier for them. Computers act as catalysts that assist students in adapting the new improved technology and be more independent in their learning. This is because; computers, especially those that are connected to internet sources, help them in obtaining almost everything that is required in their learning. They therefore tend to rely more on computing where after collecting data, they just analyze it using the various provisions of computers like word processors and databases (Maddux, 1997).
According to Ryba (1990), students also become individualized in that, they are found to work more in individuals than in groups. This is because of the interactive nature of computers, which calls for less involvement of other students or teachers while learning. Computers provide answers to most of the general questions that students may want to enquire about, making learning to revolve around students and their computers. The educative experiences of students who make use of computers also become interdisciplinary. This is where students are able to cover a variety of disciplines at the same time as computers provide interrelationships of almost all courses. This allows students to borrow various data and procedures from the associated disciplines making them to have a very diverse range of information. Students also get actively engaged in learning as computers always give them a challenge that they would want to overcome. Active engagement is also caused by the fact that interaction with computers always keeps students thinking of the next move, unlike lectures where some get bored to the point of dosing as lectures are going on. (http://www.oltc.edu.au/oltpd/docs/inv07.html)
Introduction of computing in learning increases the students’ level of cooperation as the use of computers requires more of their attention so as to follow the information being delivered through computers. As a result, students shift their focus from situations where they have to compete with each other in terms of grades and points scored, to where they focus on the quality of knowledge they acquire. As a result, computers call for more collaboration of students in their specific projects where they get an opportunity to give their contributions and arguments in the process of assisting each other in projects. The level of learning also shifts from a situation where all students have to rely on their specific teachers to provide guidance on similar issues to situations where students learn different issues. This is due to the fact that computers allow them to obtain a wide range of information, where teachers’ guidance is required; students are guided at individual levels depending on the type of guidance needed. This enables teachers to reach and guide weaker students while those who perform better are allowed to proceed. Also, Computers allow students to be in a position to integrate their sense of sight as well as their minds in learning, which improves their level of understanding.
The introduction of computers increases the self-esteem of students since their proficiency as well as computer literacy allows them to handle various issues which would not have been handled without computer literacy. For instance, computer literate students can be in a position to perform better in research assignments than those who are not computer literate. Commitment to learning is increased to some point as students use their free time like during breaks and after school to study and work on assignments which results from the motivation that comes with technology. (Michael, 1998)
Introduction of computing is very essential in educational settings as portrayed by the various roles played by computers. The urgency of integration of computers in educational systems is also given by the level of technological development taking place in cooperate as well as industrial sectors, where students in learning institutions are expected to apply their skills. It is therefore appropriate for all educational systems, regardless of their levels, to introduce computing to students, which should be integrated in learning processes. (Willis, 1997)
Beatty L. (1991): Instructional software: Macmillan pp73-108.
Bielefeldt T. (1995): Computer technology in education: International Society for technology in education pp 65-73.
Boyd O. (1990): Computers on classrooms in computers and learning: Addison –Wesley pp55-57.
Bullough R. (1991): Classroom applications of Microcomputers: Macmillan pp29-71.
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Dawes I. (1991): Making computers work in classrooms: Oxford university press pp 22-27.
Goodwin R. (1990): Computer studies for Australian schools: Addison –Wesley pp 111-139.
Jay S. (1999): Educational computing in the schools: Haworth Press pp 12-14.
Johnson D. (1997): Word processing in education: Allyn & Bacon pp237-259.
Maddux C. (1997): Learning with tomorrow’s technologies: Allyn & Bacon pp17-37.
Michael W. (1998): Educational computing as a social practice: SUNY press pp25-28.
Ryba K. (1990): Effective teaching strategies: International Society for technology in education pp19-32.
Willis J. (1997): Issues and trends in educational computing: Allyn $ Bacon pp 17-37. Web.