Engaging Learners with Computers
With the changing as well as growing needs of the education sector, the use of computers and technology has become the best alternative solution to imparting knowledge and skills to the learners. According to Mayer and Moreno (2002), before the integration of computers into learning system, the education system faced various challenges that hindered it from achieving the anticipated high learning outcomes. More precisely, inadequate methods of instructions as well as instructional materials attributed to this. Gregor (2008) revealed that, the prior used pedagogical approach to teaching and learning failed to address the changing needs of the student in the context of classroom matters. Use of computers has achieved tremendous success in improving learning outcomes for the learners since it enhances an improved instructional methodology to the teachers or instructors.
Cher (2006) found out that, the 21st century learner is characterized by different learning styles that must be catered for by the modern system of education. Ideally, the learning styles have changed from instructional to learner-centered that requires the learners to be provided with adequate instructional materials to achieve their learning objectives. This prompts for the need of integration of computers into our modern classrooms. Michele (2005) noted that, the learning tools and resource must be availed to the learners in order to realize their potentials. Just to highlight, this is only possible with the incorporation of computers into learning into the learning process.
Given the plethora of possibilities along with the benefits of using computers to aid in the learning process, this paper would like to explore the system that allows for this condition to facilitate. Therefore, this research paper objectively looks at how the students or learners can use computers as a platform for learning. In addition, the paper examines the multiple roles played by computers into learning system. Lastly, this paper would like to explore to extensive and comprehensive literature review on the technological approach to learning. The proponent of this study will conduct an empirical research that will be composed of current academic literature on the use and the practicality of incorporating computers in the teaching process to facilitate learning.
2.0 Literature Review
2.1 Use of computers in improving learning
According to Gregor (2008), learners in technology-armed classrooms achieve high educational outcomes compared to those who utilize the traditional approaches to learning. Technology adequately provides the students or learners with platforms to gather and share educational information. Through the technological platforms, the learners can consult colleagues and presents facts on their topic of interest. Mayer and Moreno (2002) argues that, with the technology, the learners’ autonomy surpasses the teacher’s involvement in the learning activities. This increases the learners’ confidence to handle and complete tasks as set by the teachers. Suffice to say, the learners can create their knowledge through this initiative. Computers engage learners more effectively in concentrating on the task or to achieve the set learning objectives.
2.2 Learning and Internet Access
According to Pivec (2006), the use of modern internet in learning changes the role students in the learning process. Ideally, utilization of technology enables students or learners to search sources of information, manipulate the information in a way that accelerates learning in the perspective of understanding. Additionally, the technology allows the learners to make progressive steps to higher thinking skills. Cher (2006) urged that, regularly, the students gets more real-world information beyond the school level and publishes their findings to the world. In fact, the role of student in the learning process expounds to that of the investigator rather than that of the recipient of knowledge in class. They become designers, surveyors, and authors of their piece of work.
2.3 Computers and Teacher Aid in teaching and learning process
The incorporation of computers in learning improves the rate at which the teachers interact with their learners. According to Michele (2005), use of computers simplifies the resources that teachers present to their learners or students. Instead of relying on limited resources available in the school, the teachers can access more materials online. Gregor (2008) argues that, rather than relying on the school library textbooks for the concepts to be delivered, the teacher can provide links to online access to materials for the students to explore. Usually, there are online content experts that have up-to-date data that is suitable for current learning process. When the students are directed by teachers to the links, they can utilize vital information that enhances content understanding. According to Pivec (2006), through the individualized and personalized course instruction approaches, the instructors or teachers can engage learners in active learning.
The designed learning models assist the teachers to the support the learning needs of the diverse learners or students from different backgrounds. Regardless of whether the students are disabled or gifted, they are all able to appreciate learning. In fact, this approach to teaching is flexible in that the teachers can accommodate all elements in the learning process. Students on family travels and other activities are as well catered for. Carr (2008) argued that, this is simply done by modularization of the course content in accessible online sites that enable the learners to access the learning materials at their paces. Accompanied by effective use of hypertext, multimedia, and other design features, the course instructor finds it easy to deliver the course content to the diverse learners. According to Cher (2004), the different enhanced teaching approach, enables learners to acquire multiple literacy as well as comprehensibility. For instance, the use of computer-blended models enables the learners to understand the challenging Mathematics and Science vocabularies. Ideally, the use of hypertext in this aspect provides easy access to the meanings of simulations and graphics used to reinforce text descriptions.
On the other hand, the reference materials that are usually stored on CD-ROMs allow the students to access critical information regarding the content or concept from varying sources. In his report, Cher (2004) acknowledged that, computers enable the students to compare information about the content from different sources. Besides, computers provide curriculum support that is based on high-quality software. This offers teachers with more resource opportunity in creating a modern and elaborate classroom environment that school libraries or most classrooms cannot provide.
According to Bousmar et al. (2010), integration of technology into the learning process enables teachers to expand, guide and enhance learning objectives to the learners. Just based on the basic understanding of computer realizes great outcomes for the students by great extent. The students are directed by teachers on which search engines to use while looking for specific information. Shank (2007) noted that, with teacher's directives, the learners or students could get information on a timely manner. This enables them to synthesize, analyze and present the information effectively. As such, technology is an integral part of classroom function that allows students to access the needed information in the course of their learning process.
2.4 Computer and its Benefits to Learning Process
Computers have various benefits to the teaching as well as learning processes in the modern classroom. However, this depends on whether the teachers and learners are quite relevant to the use of computers in the classroom situation. Gregor (2008) noted that, both the teachers and the learners require basic knowledge of computers for their use to be efficient in the learning process. The application of technology should be properly understood by the students in order to experience high learning outcomes. According to Michele (2005), the common classroom teachers or course instructors should have basic troubleshooting knowledge that will assist the learners in case of some technical problems. Though not technicians as such but they should be able to know basic measures that can help in case of unnecessary computer breakdowns. As such, it is necessary for the school administrators to provide curricula support to teachers. Professionalism in the use of computers ensures efficiency of their use in the classroom as well as outside classroom situation. In this regard, the learners are also able to acquire professional skills in the search for information using the modern technology.
Lever-Duffy and McDonald (2011) realized that learning process entails systematic and well-articulated approaches that ensure learners masters or learn newer concepts. However, this requires the use of technology to boost the rate at which the instructor disseminates content to the learners in the most appropriate way. The 21st century learners do not benefit from the traditional learning styles but the current learning styles that incorporate technology.
Lastly, computers allow the students to develop superior problem-solving skills. Through the computer instructional games and simulations, the learners can utilize their skills to answer the question and get immediate feedback on their answers. According to Cher (2004), the problem-solving software enables the learners to practice problem solving in various content areas. Precisely, it provides the learners with the opportunity to learn without the assistance of teachers to acquire new concepts especially in subjects that they have difficulty. Mayer and Moreno (2002) reveals that, this computer application in learning prevents inert knowledge. It promotes interest and motivates learners to explore for more information about a particular subject. In addition, it allows the teachers to give instructions on component skills as well as encourage the students to solve problems continuously.
As discussed above, computers are seen as a means of accelerating learning in a normal classroom environment. In fact, Cher (2006) reveals that, use of computers has various general benefits to the learners rather than the specific attributes. The use of computers in learning makes it more interactive more than the traditional lecture methods. Through the discussion and software boards, the learners as well as course instructors can interact and discuss course contents that enhance understanding of the new concepts to the learners. The exchange of ideas is quite important to any learning environment. For instance, with LCDs, the learners can watch, picture, analyze and understand what the teacher is presenting to them. In addition, computers add the learners' opportunity of interacting with others to internalize the new concept (Michele, 2005). They watch the experiment done by others and practically make trials in order to achieve perfection. Though some researchers have argued that computers to some extent make learners or students stupid, computer technology does not replace or hinder our ability to think but expands and arguments the learner's intellectual capability (Carr, 2010; Carbonara, 2005). It is undoubted to indicate that, computers function to expand the student's ability and greatly improve their creativity. According to Carr (2010), the future expectation of involvement of computer technology in the learning process is anticipated to result into enhanced capability of instant recall of mastered concepts.
Where else, the traditional approaches could approve futile, the usage of computers aligns the learner's development needs with personal motivation and interests. According to Pivec (2006), the computers allow the students or learners constantly to find new data or information that is more real and practical in their learning process. Suffice to say that, the learners can picture and utilize information three dimensionally. In addition, computers enable learners to apply newly acquired skills in a real life situation. The major agenda of education is to give students relevant skills that they can apply in the society. Carbonara (2005) reveals that, learners can access vital information from the computer can share them with their families as well as the general society. This is very important in nation building or development as well. In fact, the use of computers in learning enables the learners to see the concepts clearer and even willing to relate the knowledge to the society as well as family members.
2.5 Computer Software and Learning Process
Based on the various uses of computers in the classroom situation, five software’s have been utilized by teachers to realize high learning outcomes for the learners or students. This instructional software enables learners to interact with teachers during the learning process to realize the learning good to the students. First, the Drill and Practice software ensures that student's workout problems, submit their answers, and get instant feedback or response on the appropriateness of their answers. According to Cher (2006), this modern approach to learning enables the students or learners to get immediate feedback that motivates them to solve many problems. Based on this, the traditional homework or assignment can be replaced by simple software that helps the students learn and prepare for tests. The best way to handle the changing learning needs of students. Second, the computers enable the teachers to utilize tutorials as a means of instruction approach. Most teachers in the current education setup utilize tutorials as a unit of teaching approach. The linear tutorials enable learners to get instructions as well as feedback on the varying answers that they might have (Arnold & Paulus, 2010). In addition, branching tutorials allows learners or students to access different paths in the learning process through different methods of getting credible answers to their questions. Suffice to quote that, appropriate tutorial software promotes learning through access to immediate feedback.
Moreover, the teacher does not need to be physically present in class. Simulation is a computerized model that is used even without the presence of teachers in class. According to Carbonara (2005), the simulation software enables the students or learners to select tasks appropriately to handle. More precisely, there are two types of simulation, the one that instructs learners on contents and the other that directs the learners on how handle the task. Sciences are never abstract subjects; the utilization of simulation in this field enables the learners practically to gain or acquire knowledge on how or ways to handle the tasks. Gregor (2008) reveals that, simulation makes learning to be fast since it compresses time by getting students or learners involved. Additionally, this method is cost effective compared to the traditional procedural experiments that took a lot of student's learning time. Moreover, more importantly, simulation enables the learners to understand and comprehend complex processes or concepts.
Nonetheless, computers incorporate the use of instructional games into the learning process. According to Pivec (2006), the learning process should engage appealing instruction methods that enable the learners develop interest in the instruction process. The instructional games are quite appealing to the learners and as such, they attract the learners’ attention thereby enabling the students to gain new knowledge through experience. Stahl, Koschmann and Suthers (2006) note that, the computer- instructional games make learning look like fun to the students. This makes the learners even to learn new complex concepts that they would not have learned in a serious and intense classroom environment. According to Michele (2005), the games help the learners to embrace the importance cooperative group working skills that enable them share on difficult concepts that they do not understand on their own. Group workings are important in learning new concepts. The students considered weak can get relevant information from other learners even without the teachers' presence or support.
2.6 Computer-Based Learning
Just as described earlier, educational learning with computers creates better learning opportunities for both the learners and classroom instructors. The term computer based learning is derived from the application or use of computers within the process of learning. More importantly, the students or learners can utilize the computers while teaching comfortably at home (Arnold & Paulus, (2010). This is a method of learning in most colleges whereby students take their classes while at home. Ideally, the computer is used as a key element of learning in the aspect of the educational environment.
According to Gregor (2008), computer-based learning is a well-structured environment in which the computers are utilized for the purposes of teaching and learning. As early as 1990, most schools utilized this avenue as the most appropriate means of disseminating knowledge and new skills to learners or students. Shank (2007) argues that, most of these schools based their approach in cognitive and constructivist perspectives. This is what has evolved and currently known as e learning. Most universities and colleges use the methodology as a specific learning style. Suffice to quote that, computer-based learning is utilized by several schools across the globe. According to Carbonara (2005), this method of learning is specifically used to facilitate higher education curriculum. Moreover, computer-based learning has been realized to contribute or enhance specific job training to professionals and students around the world. Even though, computer-based learning is also useful in hospital for patient education, it is more significant in enabling students to construct knowledge on their own in the absence of teachers. They can do research and use databases for vital information that is needed in their field or course units. Ideally, with this type of learning and continuous advancement in the computer technology will show off the human teacher or professors. In fact, the access to learning resources and experiences are broadened. In the cases where qualified teachers or instructors are not able to reach learners because of associated costs are sufficiently covered.
According to Michele (2005), computer-based learning is further accompanied with online learning that makes education more efficient than before. The created learning environment improves productivity of education since the services of certified teachers are widened to cover various schools without incurring extra costs of hiring others. Suffice to indicate that, the school or education program is expanded to the less fortunate or poor learners and the larger pool of students. Pivec (2006) argued that, online learning results in a differentiated, individualized and personalized education that meets the individual needs of learners. More precisely, personalized and differentiated learning is an approach in education system whereby learners are provided with detailed content depending on the individual learner's or student interest. The blended models of instruction combine both the virtual and face-to-face instructions in order to allow the learners adequately understand and internalize the course content. The general studies carried out to evaluate the performance of this design reveals that, the students or learners engaged in learning based on the new blended models are motivated as well as gain interest in learning as opposed to the traditional face-to-face learning (Michele, 2005).
On the other hand, online or computer based learning engages learners or students in active learning. Pivec (2006) points out that, online learning improves learning outcomes with the potentiality of eliminating the lecture time with the new group and individual work. This enhances or improves the learning outcomes since the learners are engaged in active learning. The learners are engaged in active discussions, an online face-to-face teacher and are assessed continuously with immediate email feedbacks. According to Michele (2005), this motivates the learners with improved deeper understanding of the course content. Nevertheless, the current embedded social networking aspects in learning allow the students or learners to practice language with other learners that they interact with in. Arguably, the activities as well as the social interactions enable learners to conceptualize understanding since they get interested and motivated to learn.
2.7 Computers and Distance Learning
With the advanced telecommunication and computer technologies, distance education has become a common element of the educational environment. Knowledge sharing is an independent process that if well structured does not require going to the physical classroom. According to Lever-Duffy and McDonald (2011), computers have enabled distance learning in various institutions. In fact, through computers it has become possible to mobilize knowledge across or within organizations, regions, and countries around the world. Pivec (2006) realized that, when long distance learners at remote locations are virtually connected with course instructors learning becomes efficient and effective. The digital age has made daily learning easier and accessible over long distances. For instance, most institution is now interlinked to the long distance learners who are either abroad or across the country but do not physically feature in the normal classroom. Computers do not only enhance the learning but also provides a cost-effective or cheap solution to the management of education program in schools. By practically applying the computer skills or knowledge, long distance learners get online instructions from the lecturers, carryout the searches, and give feedback to the lecturers or course instructors. Lever-Duffy and McDonald (2011) argued that, computers enable distance learners to complete specialized tasks within different fields beyond the lecturer's ability. This is based on wide and massive resources available at the computer databases that enhance distance learning. In realm, a remote computer laboratory to enhance distance education is developed to enable the learners go through actual learning experience. For example, in most developed learning institution, an autonomous distributed learning platform for long distance learners is created to enable them interact with the staffs. These learning facilities allow the institutions to run the distance education programs efficiently. In summary, distance educational programs are some of the greatest benefits of computers to the educational sector. This computer based program enable learners from different locations to learn or get knowledge without necessarily going to class physically.
3.0 Critical Analysis
With the various aspect critical reviews, this paper has revealed the importance of engaging learners with computers. The computers have been realized to have transformed the classroom setup and improved the learning outcomes to learners. Computer technology has enabled teacher to present ideas or concepts from a broader perspective that learners or students understand. Suffice to quote that, technology has been used to reinforce significant information or course content that is delivered to the students. As such, computers facilitate deeper understanding to the learners. However, though the use of computers has greatly improved the level of engagement of students and learning process, most studies reveal that it has also affected negatively to learning processes (Cher, 2006). According to Cher (2004), the use of visual media in learning has reduced the rate of reading, and this has further declined the level of critical thinking. Reading makes the learners to understand and critically analyze text, but in its absence, the learners only focus on limited ideas. The new technology majorly is based on real time media and multitasking which only exposes learners to single things. Besides, learners and students accept or believe the information that they get from the internet or they see online whether wrong or right. Opinion and facts are both presents on the internet, just using information may result in the adoption of wrong strategies or methods by learners. More importantly, the use of internet and computers in the learning process is characterized by chunk of information that is overloaded and lacks the ability to focus
In addition, it has potential risks too that should be considered in its application to the learning process. First, some information obtained from the computers or the internet’s are not credible. Use of such information leads to use of wrong information in interpreting and understanding of new concepts by learners. According to Gregor (2008), some sources available on the internet are incredible and as such gives misleading information. Moreover, the computers are vulnerable to the loss of information stored in them and as such may interrupt the learning process. Cher (2004) argues that, data stored in the computers can be lost because of a virus attack on the computer.
Nevertheless, while most teachers overemphasize the use of computers for learning, some learners use them for other purposes other than learning. The Internet currently is associated with pornographic movies that distract learners from concentrating on important educative information. In addition to that, some learners are over concentrates on computer games that are not educative, and this leads to the wrong purpose of computers in the learning process.
Since the use of computers can be linked to various risk, there is a need to integrate it into learning with proper management. First, the students as well as teachers should have professional knowledge on the use of computers in accessing educational information (Friesen & Lowe, 2012). As such, the administrators of schools should allocate resources to enable the teachers and learners acquire and develop computer skills for it to be incorporated in the learning process (Bousmar et al., 2010). Moreover, since the information available on the Internet might be incredible, there is a need to use updated information from credible sources. In addition, the school computers should be made inaccessible to non-educative contents such as pornographic movies to enable the learners only access the educative contents. About loss of contents and information, there is a need to install a backup for all data available for learning purposes in the educational set up. This can hinder the stored data from being lost or corrupted by Trojan or other infectious computer viruses.
Computer plays a crucial role in learning the process to determine the level of learning outcomes in the learners or students. It enhances the speed at which the learners access and process information in acquiring and utilization of new concepts. According to Cher (2006), the learners can get vital information about the content materials presented to them by the teachers. In fact, the teachers that use the computers accurately can experience high learning outcomes from their students. More precisely, it creates a warm learning environment to the learners or students. Just as described above, use of computers is quite relevant to the study of various fields. According to Carr (2010), computers have influenced learning processes in photography, architecture, and medicine. All these entail complex calculations and drawings that have been enhanced by incorporation of computer technology. In the field of photography, the digital era makes it easy for the learners to know how to calculate and adjust the speed. On the other hand, architectural studies utilize the computer technology in drawing and constructing perfect lines, calculate perspective angles, construct circles. More importantly, it accelerates the speed at which the learners acquire the architectural knowledge and skills. While in the field of medicine, the computers perform tasks that human beings cannot do. For instance, in the Genome project computers are used to generate millions of calculations per second that no human instructor can demonstrate. However, the use of computers is prone to some potential risks that should be considered in designing incorporation of computers in the learning process (Friesen & Lowe, 2012). As such, the computer should be used appropriately for the good of the learning process. It should start with teachers and students having relevant information on the use of computers to access educational content. Additionally, the teachers should only direct the students to appropriate links that have relevant information.
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