The use of computers in college education is a major issue for students in today’s generation. Students entering a college or university now have the option of taking many of their courses online. There is a great deal of controversy over this issue because many people believe it will compromise the quality of education. The fact that students can receive an education from their own home is definitely a convenience, but the students usually fail to consider the consequences. Although they will be keeping up with the rest of the world while taking advantage of technological advances they will risk being left behind by their peers because they will actually be compromising their education.
Taking classes online is an option that a growing number of students are taking advantage of. These classes are making a college education available for students who are not able to attend a traditional university or college. They have the option of taking classes online without a major disturbance to their everyday lives. Many parents who want to continue their education find this very helpful, but there are many other students who also take advantage of the education they can receive from their home computer. It seems like a logical decision to take the same classes offered at major colleges and universities without the hassle of driving to the campus, changing classes, and trying to arrange a schedule without too much time to kill between classes. What they may fail to consider is that being a full time student in online courses still requires just as much, if not more, time than traditional students spend in class each week. What seemed like a reasonable decision with many options can end up being a disappointment and a hindrance to students.
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We live in a world where technology is rapidly increasing, and new discoveries are being made every day. Computers have become a common piece of equipment in homes all over the United States. The ability to operate a computer is necessary for entering into the job field. After skimming the help wanted adds in a local newspaper, it is easy to see why a computer illiterate person may get discouraged. The majority of careers in today’s society revolve around technology. As this computer age takes over, companies are faced with a difficult decision; they can either get rid or old employees who don’t have the ability to keep up with the rapid changes in technology, or they can spend a great deal of money to train current employees and keep them up to date. Countless adults have been left behind by this new age.
The sad fact is that many adults have children who operate a computer better than they do. The main reason children are oftentimes more familiar with computers than their parents is because were introduced to them at an early age. They are not intimidated by this “new technology” because it isn’t new to them. Schools all over the Untied States are equipped with computers for student use. They learn how to type, use basic programs, and occasionally play games. Computer software also makes it possible for students to practice subjects such math without the boring paper and pencil routine. They have benefited the students and teachers a great deal, but they have not replaced the importance of group work, creative thinking exercises, and one on one relationships with teachers and other students.
Traditional teaching styles are still very effective and important to the development of a child into a successful student. Sitting in front of a computer all day and receiving an education online would be unheard of for most students in elementary, middle, or even high school. They would be deprived of interaction with other students. This interaction and the ability to relate to and work with other people helps students to develop skills that will be helpful in many aspects of their adult life, including their future jobs. The classroom atmosphere also allows teachers to build relationships with students and determine their strong and weak points. Critical thinking, an important aspect of education can be taught and measured more successfully in the classroom. It is a skill that is measured and evaluated on an individual basis, and it should not be overlooked.
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Although the importance of an in-class relationship seems logical and practical, it is often looked at very different when college students are involved. We are thought of as responsible adults who know what is expected, but most college students admit that they were not prepared for the challenges they faced. As a typical college student, I can relate to the desire to take the easy way out, but I also understand that the important aspects of my education while I was growing up are still important. Simple observations of an instructor can make a difference in a student’s progress. College professors can often see problems before a student realizes they are having trouble. Because college is such an adaptation from high school, many professors try to assist their students in making the transition. Without a one on one relationship between the professor and student, this would be impossible. I have quickly learned the hard way that there is a new level of responsibility that is expected and required in college, but it takes a while for some students to adapt to the new standards, which could cause serious problems if they are involved in online courses. According to the Illinois Online Network, “once a student gets behind, it is almost impossible to catch up.” (ION)
The rapid increase in the number of programs that are available also causes major problems for students. It is a major concern that many of the classes offered do not meet the expectations. Universities are criticized for rushing into technological advances without providing quality. Evaluations of online education show that the majority of classes are not as effective as an in class experience. They may promise a high degree of interactivity with the instructor and other students, but quality is not guaranteed. Some students find that professors are less likely to answer emails and help in other areas when needed. The promise of interaction with other students in a chat room or through email also fails the majority of the time. It is impossible to offer these options and actually force teachers and students to take advantage of them. Unfortunately, some students depend on them and their grades suffer because of the lack of assistance that is available. (Shea 2)
... computers proves to be a major disadvantage to students who are already paying for their college education. It is almost impossible for students ... having problems in class. At the college level, students may only see their teacher or professor one or two days a week ... and online libraries are two useful ways of gaining information. The amount of information a student can gather on the computer is ...
There are many alternative ways to expose college students to computers without great risks. Computers are available and used for many different purposes on a college campus. Most instructors expect a student to have general computer knowledge, but students who still need to develop skills will not be left behind like they would in an online course. The instructor can offer assistance and instruction easily, and computer assignments can be viewed as an advantage instead of being extremely intimidating. As the idea of including computer assignments with traditional styles of learning increases, professors are exploring different ways to make sure their students know how to operate a computer. They are expected to use their email to contact professors and classmates, check on grades, send assignments, and complete many other basic tasks. These small tasks force students to become familiar with the resources that are available. Email is more practical than playing phone tag with a professor, who probably has a hectic schedule, and it is also convenient for students to be able to contact each other when necessary. The ability for students to log on to the Internet and look up assignments and grades is another convenience offered in some college courses. These aspects of computer use are very helpful for both students and teachers. The computer skills and email assignments are usually very simple and take very little effort. Students who take the time to do the work and seek assistance if they need it appreciate the good grade they receive to help their overall average in the class. They take advantage of the opportunity to use basic computer and Internet skills. These skills aid in the education a student receives while preparing them to step into a working world where computers will likely relate to their occupation in some aspect.
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Taking courses online also requires students to become familiar with computers, but there are several other factors to a student’s success. Most of the courses require well-developed writing skills. Students who don’t posses the ability to communicate well through their writing are not likely to do well. To succeed in this form of education a student must be extremely self-motivated and self-disciplined. The courses require a great deal of commitment and discipline that most college students do not have until late in the process of their education. (ION) The professor is also at a disadvantage because they cannot detect problems such as frustration, boredom, and confusion. There are many obstacles that have to be evaluated and overcome to make online education a benefit to students and professors.
We live in a society of endless advances in technology. Some of them actually hinder success and may have an overall negative effect on society. We are teaching college students to take the easy way out instead of seeking the best opportunities and working up to their potential. Computers are being used to help the education system in many different ways, but it is important to consider the consequences of the rapid increase of online education. These “advances” may be just the opposite. Although technology is advancing, the educators are actually taking a step backwards and making education more difficult and less successful.