What are the advantages and disadvantages of computers in the teaching and learning process? How do they affect the academic performance of students and in the teaching of teachers?

The advantages of using computers in the learning process are that they improve computer literacy, give students access to a vast range of resources, expedite the research process, and are an engaging teaching tool audio-visual learners. The disadvantages of using computers in the teaching process include problems with equal access to technology (i.e., not all students have the same access to computers or the internet) and the potential distraction computers pose to students.

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Wow! This question is timely for me, because I will be teaching at a school next year in which, all students will receive apple laptops.  They will be allowed to take the computers home, and we will encorporate computer usage into daily instruction.

As an English teacher, I find computers...

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Wow! This question is timely for me, because I will be teaching at a school next year in which, all students will receive apple laptops.  They will be allowed to take the computers home, and we will encorporate computer usage into daily instruction.

As an English teacher, I find computers to be very helpful for the following reasons:

1. Students are able to reasearch information quickly.  They can find their own answers, discover their own truths.

2. Computers lend themselves to a lot of creative and interestion activities i.e. creating a "commercial to advertise your favorite book"

There are also some downfalls:

1. Students can easily get off task.  They may wander to sites like Facebook, MySpace etc.  (I know that schools usually block these sites, but students often find ways around them.

2.  Without knowing it teachers can create computer-related activities that are quite exciting, but the intended content is not learned i.e. teachers focus too much on the "cool activity" rather that the actual lesson itself.

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I teach a course at a community college designed to improve reading skills.  One recent advantage I've found to computers is as an aid for struggling readers.  One of the most cumbersome obstacles for a low reader is vocabulary - not just unknown words, but unknown references, such as the Magna Carta, the Emancipation Proclamation, or even abbreviations like NAACP.  My students are getting stuck on terms and struggling with comprehension because of this lack of knowledge.  Google is a gift.  I encourage them to read with the computer at hand, so they can find quick references for these unknown terms.  It is making them more active readers, and increasing their comprehension.  It feels a bit like cheating!  However, for students who are entering a collegiate program with a large vocabulary deficit, it can really boost both morale and success.

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Speaking from experience as an English teacher, I can say that access to computers in the writing classroom is an excellent way to elicit work from every student. Students are inherently more engaged by interacting with technology than they are with traditional desks, pencils, and paper. off-task content. It is incumbent on the teacher to closely monitor students working on computers. Another advantage is that students who write slowly or have illegible handwriting are freer when they type than when they laboriously scratch out assignments. A drawback is that many kids will try to access music downloads, inappropriate video and websites, and other off-task content.

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This is a great topic to bring up, it is very relevant in today's school issues.  I work in a school that has recently become more interested in having teachers train and use new forms of technology.  Computers, especially if you have a one-on-one program can be very beneficial since students can pick up a computer at the beginning of the day and use it in all of their classes to take notes, do research, create projects, and even to communicate with the teacher and other students using classroom blogs.  Students are very much engaged with using technology since we are living in a "tech age."  I can see computers and the internet being a potential problem IF the school and staff are not properly trained, and IF they do not properly train the students.  We also in this "tech age" need to teach computer literacy and internet research skills.  We need to teach our students appropriate behavior using technology and how to appropriately communicate online.  This actually should not be an option for a school, but a mandate because most of our students go home and use technology and go on the internet, and many of them use these sources inappropriately.  We must teach our students at a young age how to use technology appropriately and how it can benefit their education.

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akannan, you have raised a very real issue. School district resources are not always shared equitably, and some schools within a distict have much greater financial support from parents than do others. In the poor innercity school where I worked, there were three computer labs for 3,200 students, and two of those labs were essentially closed to the general student body for the year. I did have a computer projector in my room, but my students had very few hands-on computer opportunities. Other schools in the district, however, enjoyed a much, much smaller student/computer ratio.

In stark contrast, one of my friends taught at the same time in a very small high school 1,400 miles away in which every student in the building had his own laptop to use for the year. Laptops were checked out to each student just as texts were supplied. These kinds of inequities clearly feed into the digital divide you spoke of.

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The previous post makes excellent points about this question.  I think there is one element that can go into either "plus" or "minus" about computers and teaching.  Perhaps, it is something to keep in mind, and not really a benefit or detriment.  There is an economic or material component that is at play when we look at computers in the classroom and information technology playing a role in teaching.  One distinct benefit is that students from areas that face economic challenges can use computers and information technology as a way to equalize out the playing field.  They would be able to compete with others from more economically empowered areas, as equal access and opportunity can be present.  The flip side to this coin would be that if students from poorer areas are denied this tool in their education, it actually widens the gap between the "haves" and "have nots."  This predicament is called the "digital divide," when technology in the classroom is used to increase the disparity between those with wealth and those without it.  I think we have to keep in mind that computers in the teaching and learning process can be used to decrease the digital divide or manipulated to increase it.

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It is difficult to think of significant disadvantages when it comes to incorporating computer technology into the class room. Students today "speak computer," and their interest level rises instantly and appreciably when they are allowed to work on the computer. Students learn best by doing instead of listening, and using computers in instruction is hands-on for them, requiring active involvement and participation. Many instructional programs are interactive, giving students the opportunity to answer a question or work a problem and receive immediate feedback. The correlation between feedback and improvement in learning is indisputable.

Using computer projectors to present lessons adds the audio-visual element to instruction and reaches those whose learning style is not addressed through traditional teacher lecture. Since today's students are heavily oriented to the visual, this approach appeals to everyone. Computer technology brings a wealth of instructional resources into the class room through the internet. Teachers can locate excellent materials on the internet and add them to their lessons by using a computer projector in class.

Students and teachers in learning situations both respond positively to the use of computers for the same reasons, and both groups benefit when computer technology is utilized in instruction.

Teachers who incorporate computers into their classrooms will most likely have to deal with students who aren't as computer proficient as others and with students who stray from what they are supposed to be doing on the computer, but these problems exist in some form in any type of instruction.

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