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The Role of Computers in the Classroom

Computers are becoming an integral and inseparable aspect of human lives, especially education. The use of computers has made education not only more interesting to learners but had also opened up entirely novel perspectives in education such as web portals and academic sites to name a few. Needless to say, computers have great potential in the field of education and are being integrated into classrooms to augment and amplify the learning and teaching processes. The importance and benefits of using computers in classroom education have been confirmed by researchers who affirm using them facilitates the teaching process and the learning process with the help of various tools available to all involved in the process of education (Angeli, 2008).

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This paper aims to analyze the importance and benefits of using computers in the classroom to aid and enhance the education process of learners as well as teachers.

Researchers affirm the benefits of the educational utility of computers in classrooms primarily due to their potential to facilitate collaborative learning environments (Crook, 1996; Littleton & Light, 1999). Computers have the capacity to transform learning environments that are traditional into virtual ones, thereby improving the potential of students to study and learn in a virtual world with the aid of technological programs such as “Active Worlds and Web Knowledge Forum” (Angeli, 2008). Classrooms can be transformed into collaborative settings with students sharing crucial knowledge with each other, with the help of teachers who have the added advantage of enabling positive relationships between the psychological learning processes which occur in students and the environmental and material artifacts which they can work with through the medium of computers.

With computers as a learning medium, teachers and students can use the available tools to their benefit by having clearly defined goals, interactive communication for group projects, and the awareness of individual roles in their respective projects (Angeli, 2008). Computers can be integrated into the classroom without substantially altering the curriculum while providing enrichment and remediation to the learning process. Teachers can use computers to provide rich and interesting learning opportunities for students to enable students to understand material related to the course and develop writing skills.

Computers are especially preferred due to their applicability to a wide variety of courses ranging from kindergarten to the highest levels of education such as graduation and post-graduation in distinct and diverse domains of education. Activities such as surfing the net for information and drafting their ideas are common among users of the computer and internet for educational purposes. However, teachers can be highly innovative with activities to enhance the learning process such as brainstorming sessions and inviting new ideas from students. Such activities enable students to enjoy their projects and assignments which would otherwise seem boring and disinteresting to them.

Students can be encouraged to work independently or collectively depending on the type of skills the teacher wants to improve among students. The use of computers is not restricted to activities related to writing and knowledge-seeking and teachers can employ computers for various other subjects and topics such as maths and sciences, which can be made extremely interesting with computer graphics and multimedia. Reinforcement of crucial material is highly possible using the computer through quizzes which enable students to be scored immediately by providing instant feedback and repetition of the quiz.

Researchers have indicated that the potential of the computer as an effective learning tool is immense teachers need to utilize its complete potential to bring optimal outcomes in the classroom. Additionally, sharing ideas through the computer medium facilitates the construction of knowledge collectively so that teachers can use their individual cognitions and efforts to enhance the development and augmentation of group knowledge in a collaborative environment (Angeli, 2008). The use of computers to facilitates and enhance “blended learning” has been confirmed by Pete and Barney (2007) who assert that the use of computers in the classroom is an appropriate blend of interactive teaching combined with modern technology.

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While it is an accepted fact that computers should not and cannot replace classroom teaching, researchers assert that they should be used as effective supplements to assist and enhance the teaching process for tasks including the development of lesson plans, development of independent and collaborative learning, and motivating learners through appropriate feedback (Pete and Barney, 2007). By using modern available means of instruction, for instance, web portals, blogs, podcasts, email newsletters, and RSS feeds, computers provide the teacher with numerous resources to create up-to-date reading lessons for students, thereby augmenting the motivation of learners through a sense of accomplishment which is attained through independent and successful completion of tasks and coursework.

The potential for success of students at their various projects is enhanced because of the access to internet tools like dictionaries and websites which have enormous information on any given topic. With computers, teachers have the potential to initiate interest in all the pedagogical activities which would otherwise be boring and monotonous to students. For example, the use of chat rooms, bulletin boards, and online forums in addition to audio and video conferencing presents teachers with several opportunities to communicate with students and invite positive and attentive reactions from them (Pete and Barney, 2007).

The medium of computers for education purposes provides enormous opportunities to teachers and students for enhanced outcomes by promoting independent learning and positive results. Computers can be used in classrooms beginning from the elementary to the university levels so that teachers and professors can use the available technology to educate students in interesting ways (James and Kathleen, 2006). Through additional tools including word processors and multimedia, teachers can encourage students to develop impressive presentation skills and overall enhanced learning. In this way, educational researchers have affirmed the use and potential of using computers in the classroom to deliver information and enable students to be prepared for their professional future, from the very onset of education (Williams, 2007).

Technological skills and expertise are crucial aspects of modern professions and computer-aided classrooms will immensely benefit students to develop and enhance these skills. However, teachers need to be aware of their potential and power to enable students to use computers as a learning device so that they are able to analyze and represent relevant data with the help of programs such as PowerPoint presentations, graphs, and flow charts which will benefit student immensely in their future (Williams, 2007). Researchers also assert that teachers should not instruct through “the sole use of drill and practice software” to merely inform, rather they should be used innovatively and constructively as delivery tools to initiate active thinking processes among students (Williams, 2007).

Additionally, teachers also need to be appropriately trained in the instruction of computers which should be used as effective tools rather than delivery mechanisms for information. Surveys in popular magazines have affirmed the importance attributed to computer-aided classrooms by teachers, who believe that they are “essential” tools for the optimal delivery of instruction (Jones, 2005). Nevertheless, the same surveys also affirm that computers are being currently used for administrative purposes rather than teaching. While there is consensus regarding the utility of computers as crucial “drivers” in the teaching and learning process, research confirms that computers are yet not as integrated into the current educational system, as they should be (Jones, 2005).

Computers are being popularly used for communication purposes, their use and integration into the classroom for educational purposes needs to be exploited. The wide-ranging applicability of computers in classrooms is being studied and researched and specialized courses have found computers, specifically laptops to be particularly beneficial to students. Research and surveys have confirmed that law students of Indiana University, using laptops for academic purposes were found to be more highly engaged in their classroom activities and tasks (Baldas, 2009).

Additionally, the level of most inert was greater since the students came better prepared for their classroom learning activities with appropriate notes and resources. Moreover, students who used laptops were actively engaged in class discussions due to their high levels of preparedness which further motivated them to work harder (Baldas, 2009). The research expelled fears that computers were a means of distraction in class and should therefore be banned and contrarily were reported as primary motivators for engaging students with academic tasks. While several books and materials are available for studying and researching the many uses and benefits of computers in the classroom, interactive websites are the most interesting and appropriate means to learn the usability and applicability of computers.

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Practical learning is facilitated through websites such as “Learning Teaching Center” provides substantial resources and benefits of using computer technology in classrooms. The site educates that practical experience in computers enables students to acquire educational understanding and comprehension of difficult materials which would otherwise have been difficult or even impossible to acquire in the traditional setting, for instance, difficult scientific terms and procedures can be practically demonstrated. The knowledge of biology and physics can become highly enjoyable learning experiences with the aid of computers as compared to simple textbook instruction. History, which is also considered to be a boring subject, can be made instructing by integrating computers in the classroom so that the use of pictures, timelines, artifacts and pictures can make the course interesting to students, thereby increasing their levels of engagement with the subject through the use of animations and diagrams to make courses more interesting.

There are numerous websites that describe the use of multimedia to facilitate student learning. Today, teachers and educators have more access than ever to the integration of computer technology in classroom settings, with sites now becoming highly interactive and educational. A particularly interesting site is “Multimedia in Classrooms” available, which is extremely well divided into several sections so that teachers are able to comprehend the usefulness of multimedia to students. The “Decide” section of the site enables teachers to decide how computers can be used to benefit students. The “Design” section enables teachers to choose the appropriate software and hardware to be utilized for instructional purposes depending on the requirements and project to be delivered.

Additionally, sites also make instruction highly innovative by providing teachers with several links which educate them about the new means and methods of lesson planning and instruction through the integration of computers and technology. Many more sites such as this one are now available to the teaching fraternity to enhance their instructional skills and improve the delivery of education to their students, by making it more interesting through the use of available tools and artifacts on the computer.

Several aspects of the learning process can be enhanced through the medium of computers. One such aspect has been found to be reading which can be improved with the aid of computers in the classroom. Practical and innovative examples of the use of computers to bring about desired changes in the skills of children can be found on several sites. “Rethinking Computers in the Classroom”.

Students can read virtual books and can later detect their voices so that they can independently decide their progress and development in their reading. If teachers are appropriately trained, the incorporation of computers in classroom education can be used to improve the learning abilities of students.

It is thus apparent that the incorporation and integration of computers in the classroom enhance the learning environment and enables teachers to motivate students to deliver optimal results. Computer utility influences the environment of the classroom in a positive manner with students sharing vital information with one another and coordinating their activities through effective communication. Computers and technology can be effectively and efficiently used for all subjects and areas to facilitate independent and motivational learning for students. Websites, articles, and books are now available to instructors and teachers who can benefit substantially from their practical use in the classroom. Software and hardware programs for instructional purposes can be innovatively molded into the classroom for additional activities to suit the various needs of the distinct levels of learners.

For teachers and instructors who are new to the process of integrating computers in the classroom, the availability of several interactive and highly simple well-designed sites makes it possible for them to learn the way in which to integrate education with computers. In addition to numerous pieces of literature relating to the applicability of computers in classrooms, the plethora of websites with various sections enables educators to make the most of computers available in the modern technological world of today.

References

Angeli, Charoula. “Distributed cognition: a framework for understanding the role of computers in classroom teaching and learning.(Report).” Journal of Research on Technology in Education 40.3 (2008): 271(9).

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Aaron Ricadela. “Rethinking Computers in the Classroom.” Businessweek, 2008. Web.

Baldas, Tresa. “Laptops may give law students edge.” The National Law Journal (2009): NA.

Crook, C. “Computers and the collaborative experience of learning”. New York: Routledge (1996).

James G. Lengel and Kathleen M. Integrating Technology: A Practical Guide. Boston: Pearson Allyn and Bacon, c2006.

Jones, K.C. “Survey says.” Technology & Learning 26.3 (2005): 5(1).

“Learning Teaching Center.” Itc.udayton: Eclasroom advantages. 2008. University of Dayton. Web.

Littleton, K., & Light, P. (Eds.).. “Learning with computers: Analyzing productive interaction”. New York: Routledge. (1999)

“Mutimedia in Classrooms. ”Multimedia Overview Pinellas School District and FCIT at USF. Web.

Pete Sharma & Barney Barrett. “Blended Learning: Using technology in and beyond the language classroom”. Macmillan Publishers Limited. Oxford, England. 2007. ISBN 978-0-230-02083-2. 160 pp.

Seymour Papert. “Computers in the Class Room: Agent of Change”. The Washington Post Education. 2009. Web.

Williams, Amber. “Computer usage in the classroom. (THE LAST WORD).” Techniques 82.7 (2007): 62(1).

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