Advantages of Educational Technology
State University Sacramento
Computers and related technology are essential to the
learning process in several ways. Although some people feel that the use
of technology can have a negative impact on the socialization and
development of critical thinking skills of young children and adolescents,
and may be misused by some instructors, they are fundamental and
significant tools used in classrooms and the workforce, and foster greater
understanding of diverse cultures. In
his article, The Computer Delusion (1997), Oppenheimer reports that
the number of jobs requiring computer skills increased by 12% from 1983 to
1993 and the pay for jobs involving computer skills showed an average
increase of between 10 to 15 percent. He also notes that the Clinton
administration pledged to move public education into the twenty-first
century by ensuring that computers become as common in classroom as
blackboards. With estimated costs to accomplish this improvement between
40 and 100 billion dollars, Oppenheimer further stated a state task force,
which lobbied the California legislature to spend 11 billion dollars for
computers in schools over the next few years.
There is evidence to support the effective use of
computer-assisted instruction. Kosakowski (1998) wrote that using
educational technology for drill and practice for basic skills can be
highly effective according to a large body of data and a long history of
use (Kulik, 1994). He summarized that students, particularly students in
at-risk groups, such as in special education and from inner city or rural
schools, felt more successful in school and more motivated to learn when
using curriculum-assisted instruction.
Symonds (2000) stated that technology can be a
crucial tool to improve student learning. He pointed out that the quality
of public education could be improved by utilizing the Web to
individualize instruction, creating learning opportunities for teachers to
engage in collegial support via e-mail, and facilitating better
home-school communication through e-mail and Website information.
He further cites Jonathan Carson, CEO of the K-12 division of
Learning Network, who states that the Internet will likely democratize
education. Symonds predicts
that students in poor communities will have access to the best libraries,
to instructors from around the world, and to a far richer menu of courses,
many of which will be delivered over the Web. In support of this view,
Aprile and Vasquez (2001) stated that the Red Escolar Project in Mexico
connects approximately 3,000 schools and 1,500,000 students in an online
community of learners. Some U.S. schools are attracted to the availability
of teaching materials in Spanish. They recognize that this is no
substitute for face-to-face instruction but is a tool that enhances the
sometimes-limited resources of schools.
We are still only at the threshold of what is
possible. On March 16, 2001 these authors and the entire class of EDEA
282, Advanced Seminar on Education Policy, at California State University
Sacramento, made history by participating in the first video-conference
ever with a class of graduate students at Peking University in Beijing.
During this conference students from both cultures were exposed to
ideas, concepts and cultural differences while asking and answering
questions in an open forum over the Internet. Students communicated
directly with each other both verbally and non-verbally, and expressed a
desire to continue learning from each other. These authors believe both
groups learned far more than would have been possible merely reading about
the two educational systems in a text, or listening to a lecture.
Clearly technology enhances education and is becoming
increasingly essential to learning. Student development of basic academic
skills improves with the use of technology, especially for at-risk
students. Access to the Internet and distance learning opportunities
promote relevant learning experiences irrespective of geographic
restrictions and improve student and teacher access to information.
Finally, technology, especially through video-conferencing, promotes
greater understanding of other cultures.
Aprile W. & Vazquez, M. (2001). The Red Escolar Project Considered
As an Online Community. Online Communities, 241-256.
Kosakowski, J. (1998). The Benefits of Information Technology, ERIC
Oppenheimer, T. (July 1997). The Computer Delusion, The Atlantic
Papalewis, R. (March 2001). EDEA 282: California State University Sacramento, California School Administrative Students meet Beijing University Students, Sacramento, California: California State University Sacramento, Center for Teaching and Learning.
Symonds, W. (September 23, 2000). Wired Schools, Businessweek.