Technology has led to greater strides in education, allowing students and teachers the opportunity to use multiple learning tools in ways that were unimaginable even a decade ago. Computer-aided learning specifically has played an exceptional role in increasing educational access and opportunity. Whether a student is involved in special-education classes or Advanced Placement courses, is a kindergartener or a college student, computer-aided instruction in education has numerous benefits.
Studies in Computer Aided Learning
Many studies have touted the advantages of computer-aided learning. Studies that analyze computer-aided instruction in subjects as diverse as mathematics and physical therapy have evaluated how much computer-aided learning has changed the way and how much students learn. It has also changed who has access to education and the opportunity to be educated.
Students with Special Needs
Computers have played a significant role in shaping how students who have particular special needs are taught. Whether a child is autistic or suffering from a debilitating illness that prevents him from attending school, computers are there to individualize lesson plans and to create a bridge over whatever gap exists between the learner and his educational goals. Whether it is through the use of software that aids learning for children with disabilities or interacting with a teacher through the Internet, computer aided-learning can be used to meet specialized needs.
If it weren't for distance-learning programs, many people would not have the ability to further their education. From people interested in earning a GED to those who want to earn a doctorate while at home, computer-aided learning has made their goals possible. Many schools offer degree programs that are solely online and that conform to the schedule of the user.
Incorporating Personal Computers
When individuals think of computers, they probably do not take iPhones or Blackberries into consideration. In fact, these electronics should be seen as mini-computers, especially considering their prevalence in the classroom today. Instead of treating them as the enemy as some instructors do, they can be used to assist students in meeting their learning objectives. Take podcasts, for example. These can be downloaded to most phones and used to introduce or clarify existing subjects covered in class.
Although computer aided-learning works for many people, keep in mind the traditional learners. Not all individuals are comfortable working with computers, while others view computers as impersonal and prefer not to use them. Even when it comes to distance education, there are some people who are willing to travel for a traditional classroom experience. Computer-aided learning definitely has many benefits and reflects the technological advances of society, but it can also serve to disenfranchise others. Think of the teacher who requires her students to listen to podcasts but has students in her class who cannot afford a cell phone. While computer-aided learning surely has its benefits, it is important to keep in mind that everyone learns differently and does not have equal access to technology.
- Mathematics and Computer-aided Learning, Academic Exchange Quarterly; Mohammad Issack Santally, Romeenah Boojawon, Alain Senteni; 2004
- Open Courseware as Educational Aid: This Really Does Compute; Phi Kappa Phi Forum; Caudill, Jason; 2009
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