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Computers in the teaching and learning process Essay Sample

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Computers in the teaching and learning process Essay Sample

1.0 INTRODUCTION
Computers have changed the way people work in any profession. They play a vital role in any field and aid industrial processes, medical industry, farming, mining, banking infect in all industries. This clearly shows how important computers are in this modern world, hence their existence in the education sector is very essential. Of importance society has become more computer literate over the past few decades, and as technology has been advancing, society’s reliance on computing systems has increased. Education is all about preparing an individual to be of use in an industry.

Therefore to incorporate computers in the teaching learning process is necessary in order to create familiarity with various computer assistant applications from a young age, particularly within a classroom capacity. In order to effectively evaluate the use of computers in the teaching and learning process the writer is going to define terms such as computers, teaching and learning. The writer is also going to give a brief account on the perspectives of the leaner, and the teacher on the use of computers as well as the advantages and the disadvantages of using them in the teaching and learning process. 2.0 DEFINATIONS OF TERMS

2.1 COMPUTERS
Geisert P (1995) defines a computer as an electronic device which is capable of receiving information (data) and performing a sequence of logical operations in accordance with a predetermined but variable set of procedural instructions (program) to produce a result in form of information or signals. A computer can be programmed to do a lot of functions depending on the software installed in it. From the above definition it can be noted that computers are not necessarily the laptops or desktops but will include ipads and even cell phones since they are capable of receiving information (data) and performing a sequence of logical operations in accordance with a predetermined, variable set of procedural instructions (program) to produce a result in form of information or signals. 2.2 TEACHING AND LEARNING

Teaching and learning are processes that are interlinked to each other but for proper understanding it important to define the terms separately. Mpofu (1994) defines teaching as “those systematic activities by which the teacher helps the pupil learn how to do certain things that will assist the pupil cope with and improve his/her environment.” Biggs (1991) simply says “teaching is developing problem solving abilities in learners.” Both authors are in agreement that the are two parties involved the teacher who facilitates the process and the learner who is the one to be developed. Learning is about behavior management for specific purposes. It is generally thought of as a relatively permanent change in behavior that results from an individual’s interaction with the environment. (lefrancois, 1994)

Therefore in school settings learning is inferred from the students’ ability to demonstrate a variety of knowledge and skills as spelt out in the school curriculum. 3.0 PERSPECTIVES OF TEACHERS AND LEARNERS ON THE USE OF COMPUTERS IN THE TEACHING AND LEARNING PROCESS Currently computers have become the life line of the young generation. The present generation of students likes to embrace all the things in the armpit of this modern technology but unfortunately the majority of educators are feeling shy and reluctant to accept technology as their work partner (Hussain, 2005). Students of this modern generation are much advanced and smarter than their teachers in terms of usage of computers and other modern technical gadgets. It looks as if technology has been with the children since birth, especially computers; they have been an integral part of child’s life and personality.

Majority of the children in this age would forget what their parents have instructed them, but would never forget to be “Online” at a specified time to join their friends at chat room using computers Aggarwal, (2012). Most students of this generation have started using computers at a very tender age since most toys are now computerized, children can learn the alphabet through their toy computers, most of their games now are on computers. Long ago children used to play ball games of which now the same ball games can be played on a computer. This gives more advantage to the students of this generation when it comes to using or operating a computer. It is therefore important for the present and next generation of educators to widen usage of this technology for teaching learning purpose for the benefit of both practitioners especially the learner since they show interest in computers.

Hussain, I. (2005) emphasized the point that students are ready to accept the changes in their learning styles, but their teachers think that computers are complicated to handle and if they are used in education for teaching and learning purposes they might substitute the traditional teachers. On the other hand Menges, R. J. (2008) insists that neither the pre-service teacher training courses are focusing to include computers in integration with education, nor the in-service trainings focusing upon using computers in education. Schools all over the country are demanding teachers who are ready to initiate the process of Computer Assisted Instructions and initialize integration of technology with education, but the teachers being produced are just like the conventional and are overlapped with traditional methods of teaching. In order to meet the challenges provided by present society, many universities in the field of Teacher Education have introduced a course in computers.

The student-teachers are taught about the basic computer hardware and some software application packages but because of the unavailability of resources there is more of theory than practical thus resulting in production of those, same convectional teachers with old methods of teaching. This continues to be a problem in most developing countries than developed countries than have since phased away the old paper system and have moved on to use of computers in the teaching and learning process. Schemes of work, record of marks, registrars, lesson plans and evaluation reports are all now being done using computers.

4.0 RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN COMPUTERS AND THE TEACHING – LEARNING PROCESS

It should be brought to light that teaching is undertaking certain ethical tasks or activities with the intention of inducing learning.  Of importance learning institutions must improve educational quality, find innovative ways to use technology in the curriculum, provide outcomes to satisfy clients and job market. The introduction of computers has provided excellent opportunities to challenge problems and satisfy the expectations of the society. In these days everybody is talking and writing about computer and communication technology and their magical contributions to better educational programs.

The center stage of this attention is Internet which has its main purpose as to provide students and teachers with more options to learn, to teach, to research, to communicate, and to share knowledge. Mpofu (1994) defines class teaching as those systematic activities by which the teacher helps the pupil learn how to do certain things that will assist the pupil cope with and improve on his environment. It can be noted that teaching is not a single day event but is a process that takes time and needs the teacher to be very organized in planning how to make the process easier for learners. In trying to make learning easier and produce quality education there is need to use teaching or learning aids (Heinich, R. etal 1996)

Whatever subject or level of learner being taught, the use of teaching material/ learning aids has always produced quality education. It is important to note that schools that are very poor when it comes to teaching aids and learning resources even under the same education system will not produce same quality of education as those that are adequately provided with teaching or learning aids. A good example is most schools in resettlement areas of Zimbabwe that lack teaching aids and even classrooms, they cannot be compared to schools in urban areas or developed countries that have all necessary teaching resources. Some of the teaching aids that can be used by teachers include television, videos, overhead projectors, slides, film slides and visuals from computers (Marley, O. 1992). Some of the functions a computer can perform include playing videos, audios, presenting images, charts, capturing videos, data storage, data analysis in research.

With these functions there is no doubt that a computer will enhance quality teaching and learning both directly and indirectly.

6.0 ADVANTAGES OF USING COMPUTERS IN THE TEACHING- LEARNING PROCESS

Computer technology has had a deep impact on the education sector. Thanks to computers, imparting education has become easier and much more interesting than before. Owing to memory capacities of computers, large chunks of data can be stored in them. They enable quick processing of data with very less or no chances of errors in processing. Networked computers aid quick communication and enable web access. Storing documents on computers in the form of soft copies instead of hard ones, helps save paper. The advantages of computers in education primarily include:

6.1 ABILITY TO PRODUCE HIGH QUALITY AUDIO-VISUAL AIDS

Teachers should always remember that the ultimate goal in teaching is to grab most of the attention from students and present messages that are clear, attractive illustrative and effective on the points to be delivered. Computers will be of use to achieve this since they can be made to view videos and images. They also have the ability to capture events some of which are impossible to bring to classroom in their natural form for examples videos showing the life cycle and development of insects. In reality this development will take several weeks but can be presented by a video through a computer within minutes in a lesson. Every activity is captured with its color, form and sound thereby reducing need to explain to the students. Facility to play back any number of times is available and this will ensure maximum learning than any description will do.

Visual can also be adjusted to be bigger or smaller and very minute organisms such bacteria, viruses and cells can be seen easily by enlarging them on computers. It is important to note that computers have the capacity to record both a video or audio hence lessons can be recorded for the benefit of both the teacher and the students. The students can replay the lesson in their own time and that will make them capture more information when they replay. The teacher can also replay the video in his or her own time for the purpose of evaluating the lesson that is the ability to catch the attention of students, quantity and quality of information impacted to students as well as behavior of the students during the lesson. This evaluation will enable the teacher to plan for a more quality lesson by rectifying the mistakes of the previous one.

6.2 BETTER PRESENTATION OF INFORMATION
Computers facilitate effective presentation of information. Presentation software like PowerPoint and animation software can be of great help to teachers while delivering lectures. Computers facilitate audio-visual representation of information, thus making the process of learning interactive and interesting. Computer-aided teaching adds a fun element to education. Instead of writing on the board, the teacher types notes on the computer and projects them on the screen using the power point so the whole class can see. This enables the students to read what has been written more easily than the teacher’s handwriting. It will also be a more precise way of issuing notes especially to the lower grades and forms that may have difficulties in spelling. Accurate notes will be assured to all students.

There’s color, there’s sound, there’s movement – the same old information comes forth in a different way and learning becomes fun. The otherwise not-so-interesting lessons become interesting due to audio-visual effects. Due to the visual aid, difficult subjects can be explained in better ways. Things become easier to follow. Even when students have presentations they can present their work using this format. Of importance the screen can be adjusted to be bigger fonts if students do not see properly. The use of the computer and projector will also save stationary such as chalk and offers a clean and more healthier environment for learning as compared to chalk that emesis dust when using.

6.3 STORAGE OF INFORMATION

Computer technology has had a deep impact on the education sector and imparting education has become easier and much more interesting than before. Owing to memory capacities of computers, large chunks of data can be stored in them. This is of particular intrest to the teacher for better storage of information such as record of marks, lesson plans schemes of work in a more safe and reliable machine (computer). Memory capacities of computer storage devices are in gigabytes. This enables them to store huge chunks of data. Moreover, these devices are compact. They occupy very less space, yet store large amounts of data.

Both teachers and students benefit from the use of computer technology. Presentations, notes and test papers can be stored and transferred easily over computer storage devices. Similarly, students can submit homework and assignments as soft copies. The process becomes paperless, thus saving paper. Plus, the electronic format makes data storage more durable. Electronically erasable memory devices can be used repeatedly. They offer robust storage of data and reliable data retrieval.

6.4 QUICK DATA PROCESSING

It is important to highlight that computers enable quick processing of data with very less or no chances of errors in processing. This will enable students who do research to present a more accurate document with less effort since all data analysis is done by the computer. As of present there are various software’s that can be installed in a computer to analyze data when conducting a research for example Genstart and SPSS. The teacher also benefits from the ability of the computer to process data when compiling mark lists, class averages, student’s total marks as well as class positions. This saves time and therefore more time would be spared for teaching and learning

6.5 ACCESS TO THE INTERNET

In schools or learning institutions that have the access to internet computers will be of more advantage since internet has an enormous information base that can be harnessed to retrieve information on a variety of subjects. The Internet can be used to refer to information on different subjects. Both teachers and students benefit from the Internet. Teachers can refer to it for additional information and references on the topics to be taught. Students can refer to web sources for additional information on subjects of their interest. The Internet helps teachers set test papers, frame questions for home assignments and decide project topics. And not just academics, teachers can use web sources for ideas on sports competitions, extracurricular activities, picnics, parties and more.

6.5.1 eLEARNING AND eLIBRARY

To adequately maximize on the benefits of internet the use of eLearning and eLibrary on computers would offer a more quality education service to all the practitioners. eLearning would require all students and teachers to have an email address to facilitate communication between the two. Handing in of assignments would be made easier as students will only have to send it through the email and within seconds the teacher can retrieve it regardless of distance. This would be a more effective tool in distant learning. Stationary such as paper is saved by this method. It is also important to note that the teacher can mark the assignments on the computer and send them back to the students. eLibrary will ensure that students get the recent published information on both journals and textbooks on line rather than the old days when the learning institutions will have to buy the textbooks and keep in a library were students can steal not forgetting that only a few individuals will access the textbook.

With eLibrary students can access the same text book online at the same time and information would be stored more safely. Computer teaching plays a key role in the modern education system. Students find it easier to refer to the Internet than searching for information in flat books. The process of learning has gone beyond learning from prescribed textbooks. Internet is a much larger and easier-to-access storehouse of information. When it comes to storing retrieved information, it is easier done on computers than maintaining hand-written notes.

6.5.2 ONLINE EDUCATION

Online education has revolutionized the education industry. Computer technology has made the dream of distance learning, a reality. Education is no longer limited to classrooms. It has reached far and wide. Physically distant locations have come closer due to Internet accessibility. So, even if students and teachers are not in the same premises, they can very well communicate with one another. There are many online educational courses, whereby students are not required to attend classes or be physically present for lectures. They can learn from the comfort of their homes and adjust timings as per their convenience.

7.0 DISADVANTAGES OF USING COMPUTERS IN THE TEACHING AND LEARNING PROCESS

Besides all the advantages and how good the computer seems to be in the field of education it is important to note that there are some disadvantages and obstacles that will always be associated with the use of computers. These include;

7.1 UNSUITABLE INFRASTRUCTURE AND UNAVALABILITY OF RESOURSES

The use of computers in the teaching and learning process in developing countries with particular attention to Zimbabwe coming with some obstacles that include, poor arrangement of classrooms that allow too much penetration of light that will result in difficulties to see the screen. However with use of curtains it can rectified. It takes too long to set up the equipment if teachers have to bring own laptop and connect it. This is an issue for teachers who have back-to-back classes in different rooms or who have to wait for another class to leave the room before they can go in and set up for their class.

This is the most scenario in most school where the teacher is the one who moves from one class to the other hence a lot of time is wasted when connecting the gadgets as well as disconnecting after the lesson. Unavailability of some resources will like the inFocus projector will result in time consuming. Since the teacher have to controls locked in cabinet and instructor doesn’t have key; too time consuming to have to get key before every class.

7.2 LACK OF INTERNET

Some schools may be able to purchase computers but will fail to maximize their functions because of lack of internet. Whilst those schools with internet may be disadvantaged to a lesser extend because the connection to Internet may be slow or unreliable.

7.3 ABUSE OF INTERNET

Over reliance on internet may also cause students to plagiarize other scholar’s work online. Some students or even educators may abuse the privilege of having internet by visiting unlawful websites for example phonographic sites or visit social networks such as whatsapp or Facebook during working or learning hours. This obviously will have negative results on the learning and teaching process

7.4 TIME CONSUMING AND MORE COMPLEX

Creating computer based materials for class is very time consuming, especially for beginning users. Moreover some educators are not well versed with these new technologies whist learning the necessary skills and keeping up-to-date is very time consuming. Even once an instructor has a course web site online, maintaining it is time consuming (especially checking to see that external links are working and monitoring online class discussions).

CONCLUNSION
This was about the role of computers in education. But it is obvious it’s not just the education sector which computers have impacted. They are of great use in every field. Today, a life without computers is unimaginable. This underlines the importance of computer education. Knowledge of computers can propel one’s career in the right direction. Computers are a part of almost every industry today. They are no longer limited any specific field. They are used in networking, for information access and data storage and also in the processing and presentation of information. Computers should be introduced early in education. However great discipline has to be practiced by both the educator and the learner inorder to offer a more quality education system.

REFERENCES
Aggarwal, A. (2012). Web-Bsed Learning and Teaching Technologies: Opportunities and Challenges. London; Idea Group Publishing. Geisert, P. Futrell, M. (1995) Teachers Computers and Curriculum: Allgn and Bacon. Hall, K. A. (1977). A research model for applying computer technology to the interactive instructional process. Journal of Computer-Based Instruction, 3,
68–75. Hussain, I. (2005). A Study of Emerging Technologies and their Impact on Teaching Learning Process . Published Ph.D thesis, Islamabad: Allama Iqbal Open University, Pakistan. Heinich, R. etal (1996). Instrumental Technologies for Learning. NewYork: Pentice Hall. Malley, O. (1992). Desighning Computer Systems to Support Peer Learning in European Journal of Psychology of Education 2, 339-352 Menges, R. J. (2008). Teaching in the age of Electronic Information. I n Wilbert J. Mckeachie (eds. ), Teaching Tips : 9th Ed. U.S.A.; D.C Heath and Company. Menon, B. (2000). Preface . In Emerging Communication Technologies and the Society. New Delhi; Indian National Science Academy. Rashid, M (1998). Educational Technology: National Book Foundation; Islamabad. Rashid, M. (2001), Trends and Issues in Distance Education (Course Code 3703) , Islamabad: Allama Iqbal Open University.

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