Current Use of Computers in Education
The term computer now has many faces. Since the launch of the PC in the mid-1980s, a computer was seen as a central processing unit (CPU), monitor, keyboard, and mouse. Skip forward to the 21st century where cell phones, mp3 players, data projectors, laptops, and even toys are packed with sophisticated and high-powered computer software that continues to change and grow by the minute. High school students are text messaging each other every day. College attendees are downloading files into their dorm rooms from different states all over the country. Term papers are e-mailed to professors across the world through classes taught strictly on the Internet. The face of education is changing; the face of learning is changing.
Wireless laptops are helping students learn how to dissect frogs through a virtual dissection. Classrooms are handing out iPods so that students can watch Podcasts as a part of homework assignments. Data projectors are taking the place of televisions, where students can interact with the white board from their seats through the use of wireless tablets. Students learn math equations by playing versions of Who Wants to be a Millionaire or Jeopardy from software installed on a computer and projected onto the wall for all to see. Students are split into teams and compete against one another using hand held devices that record answers, and teachers can save data for display in the classroom. Many teachers are creating instructional videos and placing them on Internet websites such as YouTube and TeacherTube. Students are being assigned projects that involve recording video and then editing voice, music, and pictures to create topic presentations.
The Future of Technology in Education
The future of technology in education may see increased adoption of the one-to-one model, where each student is given his or her own laptop computer to use in completing class assignments. Research supports using new electronic technologies in education to provide the structural support needed in order to bring meaning to core subject areas (Targia & Gregoire, 2006). Work may include typing journal entries for Language Arts class through software on the Internet, creating a virtual spreadsheet to show the Gross Domestic Products of the top 10 countries around the world for Social Studies, making a plot and whisker graph for use in a Math class using downloaded software, and charting the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of the principal’s car for Science and then Blogging about it as part of a homework assignment. Researchers have developed software that allows students to use handheld devices to collect data for such examples (Roschelle, Penuel, Yarnall, Shechtman, & Tatar, 2005). With laptop computers for each student, school systems can look to acquire more hardware to enable buildings to use wireless network and Internet access. Along with students, teachers will have the ability to take a laptop computer home to continue working on papers that are e-mailed by students, create tests and quizzes, or open up live chat rooms for students to attend after-school tutoring. The functionalities of an iPod can be taken into the classroom by allowing students to synchronize them with the teacher’s computer to access videos to watch for homework, watch video projects created by other students, or share educational podcasts with one another. The future of technology in education looks bright; the major challenge is keeping up with the speed of change.