Computer technology has much advanced in recent years, computer assisted instructions by teachers and use of computers in the classroom by students has become increasingly prevalent, almost becoming a trend acceptable in most institutions in the world. Educationists have been pursuing more efficient, effective and satisfying learning and teaching practices, leading to the acceptance of different curriculum and teaching approaches that today not only focus on tradition and mental discipline, but child development, social efficiency and social meliorism. It is generally thought that computers and use of information technology in the classroom will leads towards that goal, but how far it actually improves efficiency, quality and effectiveness of learning, research, teaching or educational management however is still debatable and not as obvious as is commonly assumed.
In the Book ‘High-Tech Heretic: Reflections of a Computer Contrarian’, Clifford Stoll presents compelling arguments over why a reliance on computers in the classroom is not contributing to a better education, rather he argues that it leads towards mechanical typing lessons rather than actually challenging the student 1. He argues that computer literacy does not require the same level of instructions as American history, physics or English and that competency in software are being taught that will likely not be used in the student’s future life. Despite the fact that applications and software have advanced from the time when Stoll presented his arguments, most of the contentions that are raised are still valid today, despite advances in technology.
There are many arguments that reinforce Stoll’s position even today. Laptops, IPad or Personal Computers are a source of distraction for the class. During the lessons, students could be using them for personal reasons. Despite the fact that school internet and computers can be restricted by administrators, it is well-known that students today have become very tech-savvy and have learnt to bypass these controls easily. An overreliance on computers lead to neglect towards fundamental skills essential for becoming well-educated 1. For instance, replacing hand written notes and assignments with computer-typed work hinders the development of grammar and spellings, since those software already come with grammar and spelling checker tools. Therefore relying on machines instead of their own motor functions, intuition and learning does not sufficiently challenge them the way it is needed.
It is commonly observable that those student’s that rely on calculators to solve mathematical problems do not develop the kind of skills, those students develop that are taught to do math without using a calculator. Since the calculator or the computer does all the work for them, it does not allow them the opportunity to absorb and implement what they have learnt, ridding them of the thinking process actually required to perform their task. Furthermore, computers also interfere with the student’s emotions and connection to his or her teacher, as the human support needed for the student that should come from the teacher, is now only a Google away. It reinforces the belief in a student that the computer can solve problems for them, that their teacher cannot. During instructions, observing a natural phenomenon in person compared to observing it in an edited and often sensationalized motion picture makes the real experience seem boring and dull to the student 1.
Academic dishonesty and cheating becomes even simpler, as using plagiarized work to paste data into reports has become simpler, whereas sharing and transmitting answers between students is only a click away. Additionally, learning through interactive games between teachers and the students is more productive than learning through computer games. Furthermore, disparity in the student’s computer literacy levels can also lead to problems.
If people argue that since computers have become a part of everyday lives, then it can be argued that cars also have integrated into our lives to such an extent that life is not imaginable without them, however automotive technology is not taught with the same reverence as computer based literacy 1. An over-reliance on computers has led to teachers trying to squeeze computers into their curriculum instead of investigating what role a computer can have in their subject.
Overall, having computers in the classrooms has a negative effect on the student’s learning, despite some obvious advantages such as the need to carry less books to school or being able to dig out information in an instant instead of browsing through a library of books. Education that is supposed to enhance a student’s actual learning ability. There is no doubt that computer applications have to be taught but due to the nature of the literacy skills involved, it can be taught in a later age 1 unlike core essential skills that require to be developed in childhood.
Stoll, C., 1999. A Literate Luddite. In: High Tech Heretic: Why Computers Don’t Belong in the Classroom and Other Reflections by a Computer Contrarian. 1st ed. s.l.:Doubleday.