Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Computer Technology over the years

Computer technology seems to improve in leaps and bounds, but more importantly the internet has made what we can do with computers almost infinite. In the early 80's the focus was most likely on the inherent capabilities of the the computer, where computer access was available - in the classroom or a computer lab.
The internet has somewhat changed the way we use computers, and has had a significant impact on accessibility. Students no longer have to be tied down to specific areas, but can access from homes, cafes and anywhere there is an internet porthole. Students who may have been denied access to educational resources by distance, can now easily study in a variety of ways. Even in my own case, for many years I put off doing my masters because I believed that I didn't have the resources open to me in my area (Osaka), in the early 90's. Internet access changed that, and now I am able to study, because there is a wealth of knowledge and a variety of resources to help me. I can connect with a greater number of people and share ideas on a regular basis.
I see the developments in computer software making the computer an even more formidable force in education. In the beginning, people used basic software that allowed for interaction on a basic level. Software these days tends to be more interactive and encourages people to network. Programs such as Facebook, Sype, Yutube and Blogger allow people to make connections on many levels, and share ideas in various ways. People are communicating in a vastly different way than what they used to before (with just e-mail).
Ahmad, et al (1985) discusses the reluctance of the older generation to adopt new technologies, and the younger generation pushing the limits of what can be done with new technologies. There is a gap similar to the old generation-gap, that can no longer be avoided. Teachers cannot keep away from these new technologies, but should try to embrace them. Competence in the target subject and pedagogical skill alone is insufficient. and teachers need to now embrace computer competency, in order to bridge the ever increasing technological gap between generations. This is easier said than done. I for one, began embracing computer literacy, by forcing my way through reams of HTML code, only to get frustrated and search out easier alternatives. For me, the easy solution was with so called authoring languages (like cloze maker and packages (like blogger and iweb), that made life much easier, because the layout was fixed. But as my competence in using the packages increased, I started to feel my creativity become limited, which is one of the disadvantages posed by Ahmed, et al (1985).
Technology cannot replace the me the teacher, but I am aware of an ever increasing need to keep abreast of changes in my field, brought on by new technologies. With any change there will always be advantages and disadvantages for both the teacher and the learner. The computer, or more specifically advances in internet technology and the software that is made available for and on it will undoubtedly bring more change in the future. How we adapt to that change and how we incorporate it into our lives as learners and teachers may not always be smooth. However, instead of resisting the change, why not think of it more positively as a challenge...
Steven Mondy

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