COMPUTER BASED TECHNOLOGIES MAKE LEARNING FAST

ATIF HASSAN (atif.hassan@dacb.edu.pk)
June 8 - 14, 2009

Technological advances in computing and information processing are changing the way students learn and professors teach. Ten years ago students learned by reading their textbooks, listening to lectures, taking part in discussions, and writing papers. Professors still use these fundamental tools in classes, but they have added computer-based technologies--email, web pages, on-line discussion forums, multimedia programs, quiz-giving programs, and the like to their teaching toolbox.

The demand for qualified IT workers rose steadily over the last decade and is likely to become strong again as the international economy recovers from the current recession. Two specific areas where demand for talent has been consistently growing are those of networking/telecommunications and e-commerce. Organizations of all sizes are increasing their dependency on technology and electronic transactions.

People obtain technology literacy in two ways: officially through school programs or in the workplace, and unofficially, whether at home, from friends, or by themselves. Students learn officially how to create and maintain presentation files as part of a course requirement, and participate in a threaded discussion or possibly create and maintain web pages. Unofficially, however, students use technology to share what interests them. Online computer help sites at many universities offer students the ability to unofficially increase their knowledge about new technology. The assumption appears to be that students already know most of what is considered traditional computer literacy, and they are willing to learn what they do not know about the function of this technology.

Instructors are feeling increasing anxiety to use information technology related products, but they commonly face several barriers when attempting to use technological teaching methods. Institutions of higher education must tactically develop information technology plans that help overcome these barriers, addressing the needs of varied academic programs and multiple levels of comfort with technology.

Barriers can make technology use frustrating for the technologically insightful, let alone the many teachers who may be somewhat technology resistant. The purpose of integrating and implementing information technology as a foundation skill area within all syllabi is to help students on their drive toward information technology education through the use, management, and understanding of information Technology. Curriculum developers, teachers, and administrators play an important role in working towards accomplishment of this objective. Strategies for the integration and implementation of IT, developed with a consideration of the use and chronological impact of information technology, will help facilitate positive change in the classroom and lead to information technology skilled students.

Information technology skilled people who are prepared with a set of information technology skills, understand the basic concepts on which information technology is founded, and those who have busy in the higher-level thoughts personified in the intellectual capabilities should use information technology confidently. They should come to work ready to learn new business systems quickly and use them successfully, and they should be able to apply information technology to personally relevant problems. They should be able to adapt to the inevitable change as IT evolves in their lifetime.

Education is a life long process therefore anytime anywhere access to it is the need. While information explosion is an ever increasing phenomena there is need to get access to this information. Education should meet the needs of variety of learners and therefore IT is important in meeting this need. It is a requirement of the society that the individuals should posse technological literacy. We need to increase access and bring down the cost of education to meet the challenges of illiteracy and poverty. IT is the answer.

Benefits of Information Technology in education include access to variety of learning resources, immediacy to information, anytime learning, anywhere learning, collaborative learning, multimedia approach to education, authentic and up to date information, access to online libraries, teaching of different subjects made interesting, educational data storage, distance education, access to the source of information, multiple communication channels-e-mail, chat, forum, blogs, access to open courseware, and better accesses to children with disabilities.

Information technology in education provides strong basis for the advancement of the educational system. The quality of education is improved as students become more known to information technology. Information Technology based education promotes confidence among the students. Information Technology in education does not require the physical presence of students. Information Technology in education reduces geographical limitations. Information Technology also provides various career opportunities to the students. Information Technology provides career opportunities in engineering, manufacturing, banking, management consulting, health, and forestry.

Education is a practice, and as such can be continually improved. Improving education engages inner and outer resources and pressures. Just one or more of these issues can cause a student to drop out. If this occurs, then we as instructors have unsuccessful to help individuals attain their full potential. However, if we get involved in some way by creating wisdom of society, then we are empowering students to discover, survive, and serve.

(The writer is lecturer, Defence Authority College of Business, Karachi)