Using technology in education has been a highly debated topic that generated multiple reactions among people who work in this field. A considerable part of people believes that technology is not a reliable means of education for children or students, even though this affirmation can be disapproved using multiple valid arguments. As most people know, the Internet is the biggest host of information out there. It granted people unlimited access to all sorts of information, both useful and erroneous. Technology is the means used to access this information, but the user is the one who needs to distinguish between various sources of information and to decide whether they are reliable or not.
Computers are an active part of people’s education today, not only students. A considerable percentage of people use their computer to reach the information they need easier. Having this amount of resources at a click away is an opportunity that previous generations didn’t have. Like any other tech advancement, computers in education come with both benefits and downsides.
Pro: colossal amounts of information for free
The first major benefit of using computers in education is access to information. A computer that is connected to the Internet is a gate to knowledge. A person can find all sorts of information for free, by simply accessing websites. For instance, students can make great use of renowned dictionaries such as Merriam-Webster or Oxford, without having to invest in a physical copy of these. The same goes with downloading classic books in an electronic form.
There are plenty of websites that offer eBooks free of charge, giving students the opportunity to read a lot. Using technology in education is even more accentuated when adding tablets or eBook readers besides computers. Computers were only the beginning of the tech revolution in education, but students can now replace their notebooks and books with one single device – the tablet. Data-input and typing were also a big deal in education because switching from paper writing to digital writing entirely changed the industry. People only needed one resource to produce interminable knowledge resources.
Con: exposure to false information
The biggest problem of the unlimited access to information is that students are also exposed to erroneous information, which often leads to confusion. Not all sources on the Internet are credible and not everyone knows how to select information properly. Students must be educated beforehand to use technology as supposed in education. Without knowing a few things about the Internet, being exposed to erroneous or inappropriate information could lead to devastating results. Fake information is a very debated topic in fields such as psychology. Consuming information that was not properly documented or that has no scientific proof behind it can have serious consequences. A clear example would be students who do their homework with the help of Wikipedia, which is a platform that can be edited by anyone.
Pro: the opportunity to use digital multimedia to increase student engagement
Student engagement is an issue in many cases, and there is no wonder why. Using paper-based materials, a blackboard (now whiteboard), chalk (or markers) seems not to be enough for students anymore. Gaining and maintaining their attention active is a challenge for quite a while now, but it is less accentuated since the emerge of technology in the life of people. Using digital multimedia to make the content more engaging proved to be very useful in education.
Students can use digital multimedia to create their own presentations and personalize them as they wish. This encourages students to unleash their creativity and expose their personal style, which is usually difficult in traditional schools that don’t make use of tech in the classroom. Computers allow students to use all sorts of resources when doing their homework, so it is not only a source of information, but only a mean of presenting it in an innovative manner that keeps them interested in the educational process.
Con: plagiarism and cheating become accentuated problems
A major downside of using computers in education would be the increased number of cases in terms of plagiarism or cheating. Once students understand how accessible information becomes when using the Internet via computers or other tech devices, they are tempted to simplify their tasks by copying the information on the Internet without changing it anyhow, which translates as plagiarism. Today, cheating is also a problem because of smartphones and wearable devices, which are easy to access during class/exams. Taking exams on a computer also became possible since they are used in the education industry. Online exams are now so complex that people can take them in order to obtain a certification. The practical implications of using a computer in education become even more visible, and future directions won’t stop here.
Pro: home-schooling becomes better through technology
Maybe the biggest advantage of them all – computers and technology, in general, made home-schooling much more efficient. People can learn something from scratch by using a computer and an active connection to the Internet. The apparition of all sorts of online learning platforms encouraged people to get better in a field of their choice, an opportunity that traditional schooling doesn’t fully offer. People can decide what they want to study or to get better at and select the online learning platform that offers all the features they need in this sense. Education becomes easier to handle and accessible for a wider range of people. Students with disabilities that can’t go to traditional schools or unfortunate people who can’t afford to pay for tuition could benefit tremendously from the use of technology and implicitly computers in education.
Con: disconnecting students from social interaction
Another downside of using computers in education would be that social interaction is affected visibly. Because students use computers to communicate, to gather their information, to write down their homework, interacting with the other participants becomes limited. Sharing opinions and ideas can be done through social media platforms, but real social interaction remains mandatory for the development of a person. Technology might be responsible for limiting this interaction. The most relevant example would be that the majority of people today prefers texting over voice calls.