PROS AND CONS IN COMPUTER AIDED TEACHING

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PROS AND CONS IN COMPUTER AIDED TEACHING Abstract Computers are important in education because they force us to reconsider how people learn how they are empowered and what the nature of learning and useful information is. We cannot avoid the presence of computers in our schools and colleges because they are forcing educators to re-evaluate the very nature of what and how we teach. An advantage of having computer-assisted instruction in the classroom is that the computer can serve as a tutor. Teachers can only aid students in the learning process so far. Computers can assist teachers and act as a tutor for the students who are falling behind. One of the biggest problems in the world today is illiteracy. Each year thousands of students graduate from high school reading at the elementary school level or not reading at all. Every student should have the opportunity to receive additional assistance when they need it. Teachers are doing the best they can with literacy issues in the classroom and computers can reach the students that the teachers cannot. Although the advantages of having computer technology in classrooms outweigh the disadvantages the writer can respect the concerns of the people who are against computer technology in the classroom. Many people argue the computer does all the work for the students not allowing them the opportunity to digest what they have learned. Boyle 1998 argues that information technology “may actually be making us stupid.” p. 618. He argues that the computer takes more of the thinking process out of students. This paper is an attempt to discuss the pros and cons of implementing computer aided teaching and learning in the classrooms. Key words: class computer information learn school student teacher technology The role of computers in schools and colleges advanced quickly with many strong opinions as to their worth and how they would change education including their effect on children. The introduction of computers in Indian schools began relatively slowly with the first computers being installed in the 1990s Twining 2002 and by the mid 1995s most secondary schools had a room with enough computers for a class. These computers were generally used in Information Technology IT lessons and taught word processing and programming tasks using MS DOS operating systems. By 1999 students attending schools had access to computers and a study by Livingstone and Bovill 1999 found that just over

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half of 6-to-17-year-olds had access to the internet via a computer at home and 92 from computers at school Livingstone and Bober 2005. Several years on the proportion of students with a computer at home is likely to be far higher. Some radical theories accompanied the introduction of computers into schools and colleges. Illich 1971 for example had a vision of a de-schooled society in which schools and teachers would simply wither away. Papert 1993 agreed stating that he believed that computers would fundamentally change education and ultimately make the school redundant. This view assumes that the student is motivated to learn and that computer technology could adapt to the student’s progress and achievements rather than it being tool in the same way as pencils or textbooks. This is not to say that technology does not have availed place in distance learning opportunities but without a driving force in the form of a teacher to respond to progress mark work and praise achievements the process of learning would be a very isolated experience whereby it would be difficult to know how to progress. Others warned against the overuse of computer technology in education. Healy 1998 suggested that the fun element of computing can mislead children into regarding learning as a matter of instant reward. More recently Armstrong and Casement 2000 have argued that developing skills with the software emphasizes speed and control at the expense of thoughtfulness and understanding. Further illustrating these concerns was a report entitled Fools’ Gold: a Critical Look at Computers in Childhood Codes and Miller 2000 produced by the Alliance for Childhood. This report documented profound objections to the use of computers in education and listed a number of potential problems and issues including physical hazards such as musculoskeletal in injuries visual strain and obesity emotional and social hazards such as social isolation emotional detachment and commercial exploitation and moral hazards such as exposure to inappropriate material. Cordes and Miller warn that emphasizing computers in childhood may cause a lack of creativity stunted imaginations impoverished language and literacy skills plagiarism and poor concentration. The concerns range from the obvious to the tenuous that is from potential repetitive strain injuries and the potential dangers of social networking sites to more vague concerns. In a review of the report Buckingham 2007 highlights that it assumes that children’s use of the computer will replace other activities totally. Buckingham is also critical of the lack of a definition of key terms such as creativity and imagination and of the issues around their measurement. He argues that underlying these opinions:

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Is a border suspicion … of the apparent dehumanizing effects of technology: computers are deemed to promote forms of disembodied rationality and mechanistic abstract thinking that are fundamentally at odds with human qualities such as emotion imagination and creativity. They isolate students from their peers parents and teachers and hence prevent the development of fulfilling personal relationships and deprive them of essential sensory and physical experiences that are vital for development. Buckingham 2007 p.45 It is possible that the overuse of computers may be detrimental to students and this literature highlights the need for teachers to carefully consider how computer use may benefit the students. The use of computers in education should seek to enhance and integrate with the planned learning experience rather than be an easy option or an `add-on’ to lesson or because `it’s fun’ for the student. Others display a more positive opinion on the use of computers in education. In 1995 Bill Gates stated that `computers will allow greater productivity and efficiency in education’ and continued `children naturally love computers… kids and computers get along just great because kids aren’t invested in established ways of doing things’. This view was mirrored by Papert 1993 who suggested that computers had the potential to accommodate diverse learning styles and that technology often contributes to greater interaction among students themselves and between students and instructors. In the early years of the twenty-first century the climate was optimistic. Chen and Armstrong 2002 are also optimistic and offer the following positive outcomes and conditions for an IT-rich education: ÿ Greater effectiveness in terms of time and cost savings of the classroom teaching-leaning processes. ÿ Greater motivation and satisfaction of students to learn with a variety of technologies. According to Ofsted 2004 this can be seen in Design and Technology lessons especially with regard to the boys. ÿ Greater reach out to students who would otherwise not be able to study. ÿ Global access communication and multiple interaction online and offline and self- management. ÿ New possibilities of monitoring students individual progress extent of Interaction study styles etc. which are not possible without technology. ÿ Technology enhanced tasks for multidisciplinary studies removal of barriers between subject and disciplines which were otherwise adversely affecting education.

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ÿ Paradigm shift by way of evolving new roles of teacher and students. ÿ Students to explore for themselves as cognitive apprentices and teacher to be facilitators and change agents. Chen and Armstrong 2002 p.30 The concerns raised in response to the rise in computer technology use in schools are valid as are the positives. Used appropriately with sensitive regard to the individual as with any set of tools available to the teacher the use of technology in lessons will ensure that student learning is positive and enhanced and the negative effects are reduced. In the first decade of the twenty-first century technologies have driven an accelerating application of computers in the classroom. Indeed Cooper 2006 reports that computer software manufactures have turned out hundreds of programs designed to assist teachers in delivering instruction in every discipline from art to zoology in an effort to make learning fun but warn that more though needs to be put into the design of these programs. To some extent this confirms some of the concerns raised previously with regard to computer use namely that in an effort to make learning fun some of the subtleties in the game design and teaching with technology required to take advantage of the wide range of learning benefits possible were missed. More than just in the changing design of the programs this expansion and the speed at which it takes place presents further issues that need to be considered and planned for in education. Skills learned now in Year 7 will be outdated by the time the child leaves school in year 11 probably sooner. From the author’s own experience in the past six years some schools have implemented three new versions of CAD software along with three operating systems with a fourth introduced in 2011/12 Windows 2000 Windows XP Vista and Windows 7. Fisch and Mcleod 2007 pp. 24-6 made an interesting point with regard to this. Using web-based research the authors concluded that the amount of new technical information was doubling every 72 hours While this is not academic literature and there is no evidence to suggest that the rate of increase in new technical information did occur at the alarming rate stated there is no doubt that software and technology used by students is likely to have changed by the time a Year 7 student enters the workplace. This poses a problem previously noted by the author and succinctly put by Fisch and Mcleod 2007 who state that as teachers’ we are preparing students for jobs that don’t exist yet using technologies that haven’t been invented yet in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet’. In the opinion of the author this echoes the reality of teaching Design and Technology today.

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To ensure that the advantages of using computers in education are maximized it is important to consider here that using a computer in teaching is not a simple task and requires changes in educational practice to ensure that the tools are used in the most appropriate way Sheingold and Hadley 1990. One teacher was quoted as saying. Learning is no more about the computer than it is about a pencil. But in saying that I must qualify it isn’t just a tool. The computer has profoundly changed the way we interact with information. So we must change the way we teach. Information is not learning and the process of transforming information into knowledge/learning is what education is about. Teachers need to understand more about how learning takes place if they are to use technology to facilitate that learning. What do we want students to know and be able to do AAUW 2000 p.18 The focus has clearly shifted from the technical aspects of the software to how we as teachers can best use it to enhance teaching and learning in our classrooms. While the type of computer use may differ in various teaching situations some elements remain the same it is these aspects that are frequently the focus for research and discussion. Within a Design and Technology lesson for example the student may use a wide variety of software from generic software such as word processing or subject-specific interactive software which aids self- learning in the form of instruction then question and answer both of which require little instruction to other software which may be subject-specific such as photo-manipulation and modeling software which require instruction. It is the common elements in these programs which are identified by Squires and McDougall 1994 in `The Perspectives Interaction Paradigm’. Their framework considers that there are three people involved in the use of educational software the teacher the student and the designer of the software and focuses on the interaction between these people. It considers the interaction between the teacher and student while the software is being used how students’ learning can be improved while using the software and how the teacher uses the software to improve and extend their teaching. Although to establish an effective pedagogy when using CAD programs in schools the interaction between these three people needs to be carefully considered. Twining 2002 also suggests the use of a computer practice framework to enhance planning the use of ICT in the classroom as well as exploring the impact that using ICT has had in practice. The framework considers primarily three aspects: quantity i.e. the amount of computer use during lesson time focus i.e. the objectives supported by computer use

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and mode i.e. the impact of computer use in the curriculum. Emotion is an important force in learning and it can affect how information is received and processed. This is especially evident in computer use. There is considerable research that centres on the `technophobia’ some students feel when considering using a computer and this has opened new debates on gender differences in student performance. Evidence suggests that some students embrace ICT while others are apprehensive about their own abilities to develop technological skills. A concern noted by the author of this thesis during lessons and previously raised by Musta’amel et al. 2009 is that perceptions that users have of CAD systems and their expertise can significantly influence their performance’ p.54. A further concern for students is one of image as often students are concerned others will view them as the stereotypical `computer geek’ valentine and Holloway 2001. Other emotional concerns involve the interaction between the student and the instructor for example student perceptions of an instructor’s knowledge. Research has shown that the more confident and able an instructor appears to be the more positive the attitudes of the students towards computers Pektas and Erkip 2006. This follows Banduras’s theory 1997 that a positive role model increases the student’s self-efficacy. This theory also identifies negative effects Smith 1986 reports that when student confidence increased following exposure to computer classes the instructor’s confidence went down. As previously stated prior research has shown that gender has an important role to play in the emotions and the way in which students use computers. Early studies reported that girls were more fearful of technology than boys and therefore spent less time using it Collis 1985 Culley 1988. This was not a straight divide as girls were found to be more competent at programs like word processing and email and boys were more competent at programming and game playing Turkle 1984. Within these categories ofboys and girls subcategories have been identified: Computer-competent girls who use computers at home and school in a task oriented way including communication but rarely use the computer for leisure activities. Techno boys who are highly computer literate and enjoy programming as well as hacking and game playing often labeled by their peers as `boffins’ or `geeks’. The Lads who use computers for game playing and browsing on the internet trying to access restricted sites and the Luddites who find computers stupid and boring and are reluctant to use them. These groups have different preferences when using the computers and need to be considered. Valentine and Holloway 2001. P. 68

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Further differences in the ways students approach computer activities were highlighted in Tech-savvy: Educating Girls in the New Computer Age. Written by the Educational Foundation of the AAUW American Association of University Women in 2000 in response to growing evidence of a lack of interest and participation in computer activities by girls the report considers ways in which the gender gap could be reduced. This gender gap was highlighted by a previous report written by the AAUW called Gender Gaps and was then summarized in Tech-savvy: Educating girls in the new computer age. In its inquiries into gender issues in computers and education the commission charged with writing the report found that: Girls are concerned about the passivity of their interactions with the computer as a `tool’ they reject the violence redundancy and tedium of computer games and they dislike narrowly and technically focused programming classes. They also often associate computers with solitary and isolated activities which they don’t enjoy as much as social interaction AAUW p ix. The AAUW report continues by stating that `too often these concerns are dismissed as symptoms of anxiety or incompetence that will diminish once girls “catch up” with the technology AAUW p ix. The report suggests that rather than having a phobia of technology girls are providing a critique of computing culture which needs to be heard and responded to. The report quotes Siann 1997 p.120 who wrote `I can but I don’t want to’ which suggests that women are being both pragmatic in relation to the rewards computing offers and making positive choices about wanting jobs that allow for the exercise of social skills and greater interpersonal contact. This view is shared by Clegg and Trayhurn 1999 who state that the question that should be asked is `what is wrong with computing’ not `what is wrong with women’ some possible methods suggested by the report to try to reduce the gender gap include increasing the visibility of women who have taken the lead in designing and using computer technology and highlighting the human social and cultural dimensions and applications of computers rather than the technological advances. Some of these suggestions have been addressed to some extent since the AAUW report was written and computer use has become more human and social. Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter have increased in popularity and more girl-friendly games such as role-play activities and interactive games that can be played with others have been released. As such there is a growing debate as to whether the gender divide still exists Livingstone and Bober 2005 which is reflected in a wide range of research studies. Many believe that a divide does still exist but for a variety of reasons. Cooper 2006 believes that much of the gender divide is

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due to stereotyping from an early age which leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy. This view is shared by Carter 2010. Stoilescu and Egodawatte 2010 agree that a divide remains and report that the use of computers to compete a task rather than use manual techniques continues to be a source of anxiety for girls and women and that boys and men are generally more comfortable with using them. A more localized view specific to Design and Technology is offered by an ofsted report from 2004 which noted a difference in male and female interaction with technology when it stated that overall the effective use of ICT in teaching brings several benefits to the development of pupils’ Design and Technology capability and that one of these benefits is increased self-esteem and motivation and this is especially seen in boys. In contrast to these studies Uzun and Sengel 2009 report no significant attitude differences between genders and a study by Khatoon and Mahmood 2011 states that during a mathematics task the females had an even more favourable attitude towards the computer- based work. One possibility is that the divide exists but that it is task-related rather than linked to the technology in general. Livingstone and Bober 2005 report that there are differences in the types of website males and females prefer to visit which presents different risks to each group. Carter 2010 believes tht the divide still remains an issue because stereotyping exists as computer software is often aimed at what boys like and as such girls don’t engage with it in the same way. Many of the games produced to assist in the classroom centre around standard arcade-type game themes such as war sport or space. Girls prefer to use the computer as a leaning tool rather than for play. Carbonaro et al. 2010 suggest that game construction rather than play is a gender neutral activity and can teach higher order thinking skills if a gender divide pertaining to a task exists then activities which break down the known stereotype and promote confidence in those that need it either males or females are needed to promote the best learning experience when using complex CAD software. It is likely that this will require some careful consideration in terms of making any intervention appeal to both males and females. Conclusion In conclusion the advantages discussed concerning computer technology in the classroom outweigh the disadvantages. Computer technology is a positive supplement to bridge the gap between education and the technological world in which we live. Computer- assisted technologies in schools offer students greater access to information an eager motivation to learn a jump-start on marketable job skills and an enhanced quality of class work.

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Bibliography 1. Bennett F. 1999. Computers as tutors: Solving the crisis in education.p. 3. Sarasota FL: Faben Inc. Publishers. 2. Boyle F. T. 1998. IBM talking head’s and our classrooms. College English 55 6 pp. 618-626. 3. Provenzo E. F. Brett A. McCloskey G. N. 1999. Computers curriculum and cultural change. Mahwah NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers. 4. Wehrle R. 1998. Computers in education: The pros and the cons. Retrieved on February 18 2003 http://www.edweek.org/sreports/tc98/intro/in-n.html