The era of technology has affected human life. Computers, one of the most popular technologies, integrate into almost all human activities. It has been integrated into most school curriculums as a teaching aid; it is helpful to increase education quality. The significances of computers raise the demand of computers need in education every year. Fore example, it has been reported in 2008, the average number of computers in primary, secondary, and special schools in England increases annually.
This technology gives teachers chance to bring creative teaching activities. A teacher, for example, can use computers to collect student’s feedback from questions delivered (Light and Littleton, 1999). Teachers are easy to create and bring an interesting situation in the teaching as computers can help teachers in many ways, such as doing an interesting class presentation using the PowerPoint in Microsoft Office program. It is easy for students to understand materials given in class and brings new learning experience (Polontalo, 2010). Furthermore, the benefits of computers in education vary as it offers different programs that can be used for different purposes and in difference situations.
Firstly, students use word processors in the computers to help them in learning writing skills. Instead of doing handwriting, computers show its role to assist students in doing writing through word processors. Not only assist students to produce their writing works, word processors also help students in revising, editing, formatting, and printing the written work (Norton and Sprague, 2001). Students, for example, do assignments on the word processors easily and quickly. This program gives students more opportunities to arrange and to edit their writings without a need to rewrite the entire paragraphs. In addition, they find it easy to correct mistakes in writing words (Norton and Sprague, 2001).
Furthermore, word processors in educational setting become more useful as it can assist students to improve writing problems. A research conducted by Warden and Chen (quoted in Chen, 2005) toward 381 college students concluded that computers assist students to improve their writing errors through feedback given on their works in a computer program. Many researchers suggested that computers can be a student assistance to improve their writing skills. Chen (2005) had investigated the performance comparison between students who were studying in the traditional teaching class and computer-aided class. It obviously indicated the performance of teaching with computer aids were significantly better than a traditional class.
Recently, computers are also used as a source of information for students in assisting to do assignments. There are sorts of information can easily be found on the internet. Today, education takes the advantage of internet as one of the main sources of information for materials used in the teaching and learning. Internet offers alternative references to get and publish information very fast. Information in printed-texts, nowadays, is no longer popular because of the existence of new digital information sources. The use of World Wide Web as a system provides all kinds of information on the internet (Norton and Sprague, 2001). World Wide Web may simplify the use of internet in searching information (Provenzo, Brett, and McCloskey, 1999). Students can find various information that they need from the internet in seconds. Another role of computers as a source of information through internet can be proved by the use of search engines on the internet to get information when it is difficult to get information from World Wide Web. Norton and Sprague has asserted (2001, p.143) that "Search engines allow you to type in key words or phrases and then search Web pages for these terms." Search engines, such as Google (http://www.google.com), Yahoo (http://www.yahoo.com), Hotbot (http://www.hotbot.com), Search (http://www.google.com), are very popular for students to get information of something in detail.
Finally, computers are also used as a tool of communication in the teaching and learning. Internet connection possibly gives opportunity to students to communicate with teachers in a distance-learning format. A teacher can communicate with students wherever the students are around the world as long as they have computers connect to internet in front of them. Anna, a school teacher, explained that her students not only did their researches on the internet, but they also collaborate with other students who were in different places (quoted in Roblyer, 2006). Light and Vivienne (1999) said that the role of computers in education possibly gives students opportunity to interact with their teachers and other students. Computers ignore distance and limit of time between a teacher and students to study, because a teacher and his or her students can do the teaching and learning in anywhere and at anytime with computers. Some teachers are convinced that using computers in a communication or an interaction obviously can be a good way of learning (Light and Littleton, 1999). University teachers have actually applied it to their students since there are several courses provided in a distance-learning format. Among teachers and students or among students themselves interact in distance using computers with internet access.
There are several forms of distance interactions assisted by computers in educational setting. Teleconference is one sort of distance interactions that is now being developed in education. An online interactive communication, which is assisted by computers, help students to be able to communicate with their teachers as if the teachers are in front of them. It allows people to talk and to see each other in the interaction (Norton and Sprague, 2001). Indeed, it will be more interesting for students as they are really attracted on the use of computers. Another role of computers in the communication can be seen from the use of "chat" activity. It allows people from all around the world to interact at one time, in many different channels, with many different people (Norton and Sprague, 2001). In addition, chat may also help students, who cannot express their ideas face-to-face to teachers. Computers, as a tool of communication, can also be used to send mail electronically instead of sending it by air post travel that may take days to be received. Computers are able to send and to receive messages instantly known as e-mail (Norton and Sprague, 2001). The use of e-mail allows a teacher talk to students about a topic of discussion privately. Indeed, it has been proved in University of Newcastle in its course, the Computer in Education, which comes in a model of distance learning (Postgraduate Course Information of the Faculty of Education and Arts at University of Newcastle, 2009). Students and lecturers communicate using “Blackboard” which is provided on university website. This tool allows students to ask questions and get answers from their lectures directly; also, students are able to see their courses timetable on it.
In brief, computers have shown its functions or roles in educational setting, which it leads to changes in teaching and learning experience. Computers show its role as word processors, both for teacher and students in their writing skills. In addition, it can be used as a source of information for students to develop their knowledge on a course of materials. Finally, computers become a new century tool of communication that eases students to chat with a teacher or other students from different places. Computers will always play these significant roles in educational setting as it is considered may bring an affective model of teaching and learning.
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