Read the first part here.
The dialectics of information technology: Some lessons and references
The development if IT, drawing reference from my personal experiences and research studies, has benefitted education in no small way. With more powerful modeling software and applications along with mobile devices such as tablet, Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) and laptops becoming more widespread in the classroom, IT has greatly contributed to the assimilative capacity of students. A typical example is the Microsoft Office, (particularly Microsoft Word) and Microsoft Digital Encyclopedia (Microsoft Encarta) which significantly enhance the writing skill and quality of students, particularly low ability English as a Foreign Language (EFL) students. To cite a reference, a study designed to examine the effectiveness of web-based instruction in the writing of freshman EFL students states “that the use of web-based lessons as a supplement to traditional in-class writing instruction was significantly more effective than teaching which depended on the textbook alone.’5
IT also provides teachers/lecturers with boundless choice of multimedia, software, applications and devices with which to generate more exciting, interactive and collaborative lessons. It upgrades the traditional lecture-based lesson and extends the horizon of teaching to stimulate and benefit every type of learner.6 Also, online education portals (e.g. coursera.org, khanacademy.org, etc.) have made educational material accessible anywhere and anytime.
Angela McFarlane, states that ‘pupils who master 21st-century communication technology and social networking are better at organizing their studies, (and) use information from different sources more effectively and often write more extensively through the use of word processing.’7
Conversely, Information Technology also has its downside. For instance, there is overreliance on IT which makes students less active and inventive. Some students no longer take time to solve equation and tasks, all they do is query the task(s) in a search engine and a solution will be provided (thanks to Google, Wikipedia, and others). This eventually leads to what one terms intellectual dishonesty—Plagiarism. Some students, when asked to do assignment or project work, instead of searching for resources that will help them in the research work, what they do is search for some related project work done by other students in other schools, copy and paste directly and submit to their lecturers. All these notwithstanding, my own perception from experience is that Information Technology is ideally a blessing to education. IT is an asset, not a liability. It only turns otherwise in the hands of those who use it unwisely.
To conclude, my claim is that the effect of IT on education is dialectic; it can either be beneficial or harmful, the choice depends on us—the students. If productively utilized, IT enriches and enhances education, if otherwise, it threatens education.
1 “Technology: Blessing or Curse?” Awake! Volume 90 (11). November 2009
3 Microsoft Encarta Premium DVD 2009
5 “”Advantages and Disadvantages of Technologies in Education and Military