by Daryl Dodoo
At first I was intrigued by the use of computers in education. But then I changed my mind. Why? Being like every other college kid, It came to my realization that approximately 90% of school work which was required of me to complete had to do with the use a computer or some form of connectivity in one way or the other. So then I asked myself, is the computer a good servant by facilitating my day to day college requirements? Or is it a bad master who dominates my school work and limits the exploitation of my full academic potential? And then it came to light that computers do more harm than good in education in a vast number of ways, some of which we do not consciously realize.
The most outstanding problem associated with computer-use in schools is plagiarism and cheating. This gradually growing trend is found chiefly in the tertiary institutions (colleges and universities).Plagiarism and cheating are malpractices which bring shame to the integrity and honesty of a student. Donald McCabe a professor of Management & Global Business at Rutgers University revealed in a survey he conducted that 36% of undergraduate and 24% of graduate students admitted to altering and copying sentences from the internet without giving due credit to the authors and publishers of the related material.(Facts&Stats Par.3). Students use the availability of search engines on the web to find solutions to test questions on the internet which serves as a cache of information. In addition to this, they are able to access information forwarded to their computers by other students which does not promote individualism. In most cases, the students present the work as their own. The National Public Radio states that, “There’s an electronic resource out there that’s providing college students with inventive new ways of maintaining their GPAs without required reading, tedious essays or hours of studying. It’s the Internet, and it has led to a new kind of cheating that educators are trying to combat with technology and another look at what counts as plagiarism” (NPR par.1).
After a personal introspection, I tried to recollect how often I had to take notes in class by writing and then made a comparison with the frequency of typing out class notes. The introduction of computers in schools has taken away the heartiness and tradition associated teaching and learning. The chalkboard has been replaced with projectors and likewise; the practicality of writing has been replaced with the keyboard. Practice makes one perfect right? How will perfecting our spelling and improving our writing skills be achieved if we hardly incorporate measures to improve them? Pre-equipped software’s such as Microsoft Word which are found on most computers are enabled with spellcheckers which automatically correct mistakes often associated with typing. This is not a good way to learn because the brain is hardly involved. According to Gwendolyn Bounds, who writes for the Wall Street Journal:
Recent research illustrates how writing by hand engages the brain in learning. During one study at Indiana University published this year,researchers invited children to man a “spaceship,” actually an MRI machine using a specialized scan called “functional” MRI that spots neural activity in the brain. The kids were shown letters before and after receiving different letter-learning instruction. In children who had practiced printing by hand, the neural activity was far more enhanced and “adult-like” than in those who had simply looked at letters.(Bounds par.6).
The ardent student who solely on the computer is likely to suffer a lot of disadvantages. According to Menachem Wecker, A US News article writer, the problems associated with these problems are numerous. He states that, “Many students get caught up in studying, homework, and social activities and leave computer security protection as a low priority.” (qtd.in “How to protect” par.9). Wecker is worried about the various dangers which unsuspecting students are liable to in a situation where the need to complete homework and other academic requirements leave them vulnerable to hackers and criminals who steal their information. The internet which works simultaneously with computers make these unwary students susceptible to these unforeseen circumstances. Records from Statistics done by The U.S Department of Justice have shown that, “Approximately 16.6 million persons or 7% of all U.S. residents age 16 or older, were victims of one or more incidents of identity theft in 2012.” (Harrell and Langton 1).
The infusion of computers into society was not a daunting task. Computer usage has grown exponentially over time, with nearly 120,000 households reporting access to an Internet-ready computer as of October 2009 according to the US Census Bureau. (US Census Bureau 1). The margin in the increase of the figures from this report was very wide as compared to an earlier survey done in 1984 which reported nearly 88,000 households as users of computers with internet access; Double that of the subsequent year (2009). One disadvantage of owning a computer is the information that students can access from the Internet. Although restrictions apply, many students have gained access to information on drugs, pornography, use of weapons and making bombs. Although these absurd habits are not part of the education curriculum, The likelihood of a student encountering these problems is high because the human mind is curious and always willing to explore. This leads to the cultivation of unacceptable lifestyles in the society which become problematic and difficult to curb. This goes a long way to explain that not every student who has a computer uses it for its intended purpose which is to study.
If earlier generations were able to attain their educational goals without the use of computers, what makes the same aspirations so difficult in this modern era. Computers are like parasites, they gradually diminish the true efforts put in towards education. Although computers have managed to find their way into mainstream education, it is important to realize that the pace at which technological evolution is taking place is highly rampant and there will come a time when humankind will not be able to keep up with the changes which occur.
“Cheating In College Is Widespread — But Why?.” npr.org. National Public Radio,19 July 2010. Web. 6 Apr. 2014.
“FACTS & STATS”. plagiarism.org, n.d. Web. 6 Apr. 2014.
Harrell Ph.D, Erica and Langton Ph.D, Lynn. “Victims of Identity Theft, 2012.”bjs.gov. U.S.
Department of Justice,12 Dec.2013.Web.9 Apr.2014.
“Households With a Computer and Internet Use: 1984 to 2009.”census.gov.U.S Census Bureau,
Feb. 2010. Web. 9 Apr. 2014.
Wecker, Menachem. “How to Protect Against Identity Theft in College.” usnews.com, 2 Oct.
2012.Web. 6 Apr. 2014.