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Computer Technologies in Education

The modern stage of society development is characterized by a strong influence of computer technology, which infiltrates all spheres of people`s activities and distributes information in society, creating global information space. Computerization of education is an indispensable and important part of these processes. It is not a new fact that is nowadays the new system of education is being established across the world. Many universities and institutions provide students with a possibility of distance learning in addition to ordinary learning, based on physical attendance. It means that computer technologies are spreading very quickly. The process is followed by significant changes in educational and pedagogic theory and practice. Education technologies should be adequate for the modern technical possibilities and assist in the harmonic integration of children into the information society. Information technologies are called to be not only an additional “appendage” to education but also an indispensable part of an integral education process, significantly increasing its effectiveness.

During the last 5 years, the number of children who can handle a computer increased approximately 10 times. It is underlined by many scientists that this tendency will increase independently of education. However, it is investigated that children are familiar rather with computer games than with education programs. So children use a computer for entertainment. At the same time, the cognitive and educational motives of a computer are falling behind. Therefore, the application of computer technologies now is insufficient to meet all cognitive and educational needs.

One of the reasons for such a status quo is the fact that computer technologies still fail to find their application in educational institutions. There are computer classes in schools but not all the opportunities for computers are used. Most teachers of primary schools are not familiar with the ways of computer application in education. Lessons with the application of computers in most cases are carried out only by very few teachers.

Classification of ICT According to the Spheres of Application:

New Technologies as the Best Time-Saving Means to the Students

  • Digital course planning

Despite the negative influence of computer technologies on education (we will study them later) there are many positive moments, which play a crucial role nowadays. Considering modern students’ life, there is a strong need for time. Students can work or attend some courses (Hurme 43-79). For example, the physical attendance of classes can be a problem for students. In such cases, students choose an individual plan of study. It presupposes that a probable plan of classes and home assignments that have to be done will be sent to a student. With all the needed information, the students can plan their activities and accomplish the assignments whenever it is convenient for them. The practice of individual plans of attendance is wide-spread among students. It helps them to combine work with education, for example, if a student is married, working or attending two courses simultaneously. There are situations when a student is married and has children, then he/she can’t continue attending the classes. Hence, digital course planning is effective and convenient for students, who cannot attend classes. Furthermore, some students choose online classes instead of physical attendance. It occurs when a student cannot attend classes because of some reasons (including disability or some diseases). It is a better way to get an education than to invite some teachers from school to come to a student`s house.

  • Online class

In most situations, teachers, as well as students, have no ability to reach each other. Therefore, the only way to study is the application of computer technology; any other means cannot provide a student with information. Self-instruction without a teacher is ineffective since the interaction between a teacher and a student is needed. There are many internet classes. We will discuss most of them. When choosing an institution to study at, a student is concerned with its location, but studying via the Internet removes the problem of the distance, therefore students can attend classes regardless of where they live. (Leu 100) During the economic crisis, people faced the problem of not being able to correspond to the needs of the labor market, so they tried to obtain new knowledge. People who are rather old cannot attend usual institutions due to the learning pace and the necessity to visit classes instead of working. At usual classes, a lecturer constantly moves on to a new topic and some students can miss something, but regarding internet education, an instructor has to describe all the topics to students clearly. This type of education has drawbacks as well, but it depends on the students’ habits. There is a lack of communication with classmates and face-to-face communication with the lecturer. It can be considered as a shortcoming, but many students do not need any communication. Many students with bad educational habits and low motivation may fall behind, but if a student has good habits and he/she is motivated, he/she would deal with all assignments before the submission date.

  • Electronic Textbooks and Data-Bases of journals and articles

Since the Internet is a net of information, it provides unlimited possibilities to get the needed information whenever a person needs it. Students may save a lot of time uploading the needed information from a web site and reading it in a convenient place. Also, the Internet helps institutions and students to exchange their articles and journals through websites of universities or with the help of internet databases. Nowadays, many institutions provide access to the databases of articles or scientific works of their teachers or students and students from other universities can take them as the basis for their works or activities. It helps students to get the needed information and to save a lot of time.

Possibilities of Computer Learning to Improve Students` Interest and Learning

Computer technologies provide not only the ability to communicate over long distances but also an ability to study and learn something new. Using special educational programs students learn many subjects without the supervision of teachers. These applications can be stored in personal computers, laptops or tablet computers.

  • E-learning

An educational program is a specific educational application, created for students. It should encourage the maximal activity of students, individualizing their work and giving them an ability to direct their cognitive activity. Educational programs can provide theoretical or practical materials that are bound with teaching materials to provide cohesion of the information given via the application and the information given during the classes. The application can provide practical consolidation of theoretical information that was previously given by an instructor. Some experiments and tests may be carried out in a virtual way when there is no possibility to conduct them in class. Considering the development of technologies, there are many opportunities to present information with the help of a computer. Any printed diagrams and manipulative materials should be considered as an anachronism. But the high price of equipment and lack of experience and computer interaction delay the changes in the educational system. There are many types of educational programs such as:

  • Electronic reference books and encyclopedias

Vocabularies and translators can also include speech synthesizers and speech recognition programs to control the pronunciation during foreign language classes or home activities.

Software that can benefit the educational process can also improve a student`s performance in mathematics or other hard science lectures. It is a well-known fact that computers are meant to compute or calculate. So students can use computers to check their solutions. It can’t help to check some cases or tasks, but there are many electronic tasks that require correct solutions. So students can study at home or at any convenient place. It helps students make the study project more convenient and interesting (Aviram).

  • Multiple ways to study. Reading, writing, speaking, listening can be accomplished in one device

Information technology reached such a level that students can take their computers to the classes. It provides a special means of pr?cis-writing of lectures or just recording any audio information. There are many applications that help students to practice their pronunciation by repeating a text after the native speaker, e.g. ABBYY Lingvo tutor and others. Text-processors or other applications also can help students correct their spelling according to the corrections done by the program. However, it can also have a negative effect since spelling mistakes are corrected automatically when typing, then it can happen that a student may face problems with hand-writing words correctly.

  • Studying game is a good way for students' memory

There is one more interesting way of learning that is related to games. It is a productive way of studying as students are encouraged to learn a specific subject by playing and visualization of the main concepts, therefore learning the material. Basically, teachers use games for learning purposes, but computers provide new possibilities for learning. For example, some schools may have no possibility to buy equipment to provide the visualization of the material, but computer technologies can help to solve this problem.

There are many advantages of game-based learning and we will discuss some of them. Computer games help to attract students` attention to the subject and learning is considered as leisure. This kind of learning is not considered to be boring due to its entertainment character. There are many activities, which indicate the more expressed learning effect than the usual ones. For example, students engaged in an interesting game connected with the development of students` memory and verbalization. They have to interact with each other to find the best solution. A teacher can prepare some games such as “Who wants to be a millionaire” or “The wheel of fortune” during which the students will be asked questions in the most interesting way (Woronov)

Computer applications can be the best ally to turn the learning process into a meaningful and interesting activity. Teachers should not reject traditional learning methods for the sake of game-based learning, but they should try to combine them. It will help to bring a positive experience of learning.

Communication Is More Convenient Due to the Application of the ICT

Communication, as well as proper learning, is a significant aspect of students’ development. It should be taken into account by considering all means that can help to improve them. Computer technologies can provide the best communication channel between a teacher and students, or between students of different institutions to share their experiences or even some works, which can be used by other students. Communication provides a better learning atmosphere.

  • Receiving notification from school by email

By using modern technologies, teachers can communicate with students with the help of the Internet. Teachers can email home assignments to students, to notify them about some events and to consult his/her students about some assignments. All these features help students to stay in touch with their teacher; they provide the feeling of cohesion with the teacher and good relationships with each other. In the case when a student has a low rate of attendance, a teacher can inform the student`s parents about his/her attendance. It helps teachers to keep in touch with students’ relatives and somehow influence them through their parents. Also, students can email their teachers when they face some problems with home assignments. The teacher may provide them will all the details in a correct and understandable way. There are many services and applications which provide video-conferences between two or more people. Thus, a teacher can call a student and show him/her how to carry out the assignment, or to encourage him/her to find his/her own way of solving the task. (Plowman 145-157)

  • Tutoring via the internet

We took into consideration tutoring of home assignments, but when dealing with term papers, course works, etc. a teacher or an instructor can establish a two-way channel to provide needed information to students and ensure that they understand the topic. There are some disadvantages of such tutoring, related to teachers’ schedules. The support of the teacher is significant for a student. Computer technologies also provide simple communication between peers and classmates. It can help students make group projects, improve their interpersonal communication skills and team-working skills.

  • ICT helps to carry out the research

Sometimes students need help from people outside their institution in cases of surveys, which are needed for their projects or papers. The students may go out and ask people to take part in a survey but it costs a lot of time and the number of respondents may not be sufficient. Web-surveys involve people from different states and even countries, so students can invite their friends, peers and other people to take part in a survey that is easy to perform via the Internet. As a result, students can save time to spend it on their research.

Despite all the advantages of computer technology, there are also drawbacks.

Online Classes Excessively Personalize Students

  • Negative factors

Application of modern information and communication technologies in all spheres of education may result in many negative consequences, among which we can underline the number of problems related to psychology and education and the health of students.

  • Lack of interpersonal communication

Particularly, one of the advantages of education with the help of ICT is the individualization of education. However, there are significant drawbacks as well as advantages connected with total individualization. Individualization erases face-to-face communication between educators and students, and among the students.

ICT proposes a surrogate communication in the form of “a dialog with a computer”.

  • Lack of independent thinking

During all the steps of education, the students merely comprehend the information. Students lack the practice of dialogical conversation and pay little attention to forming and formulating their thoughts in the professional language. Without developing the practice of dialogical conversation, monologue conversation, that is independent thinking, becomes ceased.

The question asked to oneself is the most correct indicator of the presence of individual thinking. Way of general individualization with the help of computers will lead to the loss of creative thinking that is dialogue-based.

Physiological Problems Connected with the Application of Computer Technologies

  • Inconvenient working place

A person can suffer from a lack of comfort while working with a PC (strict attachment to a place, working pose, and display size). Nowadays, this drawback is compensated by an application of portable computers and flat TFT monitors, but such equipment is rather expensive and very few students can afford it. It should also be considered that even a TFT monitor harms a person`s eyes. White and grey or blue and black backgrounds of the text processors or other applications influence the user’s attention. Low-motivated students can get tired of working with the educational programs or reading e-books and start playing video-games instead of this (Goldman 743-770).

  • Problem related to technical aspects

Considering the fact that students spend hours working with a computer may erase good interpersonal communication. Therefore, they subconsciously associate people on the Internet with computers’ data. The communication between a student and an instructor that is very often popularized becomes useless and even harmful, due to the shift of the student`s perceptions. It is a so-called preoccupation with technical aspects; it is related to the association of people or some concepts with technical things. One more negative aspect is connected with the perception of the information on the Internet. Information on the internet is given in a free and accessible way, so every student can get it and use it, but a few students are concerned with the value of this work and the time spent for its implementation.

The problem of power-saving while working with ICT

It became a common activity to copy projects, essays, reports, etc., but this fact does not encourage students to increase the effectiveness of education. Memory and an ability to find and classify information become less effective after intensive work with ICT. The human brain is designed to provide an equal amount of energy to all parts of the body, but when one part of the body does not need energy or strength, the brain restricts the supply of energy to that part. It deals with human memory that decreases its working capabilities with the use of the Internet and electronic calculators. When students solve tasks on their own, they train their brains. Therefore, educational efficiency is increasing.

Computer technologies are an indicator of the informational age. All people should know how to use computers. Peculiarities of modern technologies are studied with the help of a broad application of ICT. But nowadays, IT classes prove their efficiency as students can easily find information. Drawbacks of the educational system are not predetermined with the lack of technology, but they are old and should be renewed. It is the one solution to save the whole educational system. Computers can help teachers in providing students with information, but computers will never substitute a real teacher. Computers are a part of the educational system and will be only a part of it. Whether the computer will influence a student in a bad or good way depends on the motivation, habits and other characteristics of the very students. However, computers, the Internet, learning games, etc. will not make students study if they do not want to learn.