In the foreseeable future,computing will play an increasingly important role in human learning. However, no one yet knows exactly how great that role will eventually be, or precisely what form it will finally take."Robert P.Taylor". Though computers play significant role in education, it created a different notions to educators, while some believe that computers are a perfect tutor, other argued that computers are just merely tool to help educators effectively deliver their lessons, and still teachers are the best deliverer of information. this topic helps us understand the application of computing in education.
The Three Modes of Using Computing in Education
The framework suggested for understanding the application of computing in education depends upon seeing all computer use in such application as in one of three modes. In the first, the computer functions as a tutor. In the second, the computer functions as a tool. In the third, the computer functions as paychecks a tutee or student.
The Computer as Tutor
To function as a tutor in some subject, the computer must be programmed by "experts" in programming and in that subject. The student is then tutored by the computer executing the program(s). The computer presents some subject material, the student responds, the computer evaluates the response, and, from the results of the evaluation, determines what to present next. At its best, the computer tutor keeps complete records on each student being tutored; it has at its disposal a wide range of subject detail it can present; and it has an extensive and flexible way to test and then lead the student through the material. With appropriately well-designed software, the computer tutor can easily and swiftly tailor its presentation to accommodate a wide range of student differences.
Tutor mode typically requires many hours of expert work to produce one hour of good tutoring, for any or all of several reasons. (a) As intuitive beings, humans are much more flexible than any machine, even a computer. (b) Creating a lesson to be delivered by a human tutor requires less time because it omits much of the detail, relying upon the spontaneous improvisation and performance of the instructor to fill in both strategy and substance at the time of delivery. (c) Computers are still relatively crude devices and the only means we have of programming them are awkward and time-consuming. (d) Human instruction rarely aims to accommodate individual differences because the normal classroom situation prohibits such accommodation; hence lesson preparation and design are simpler and swifter. Because such accommodation is possible with the computer as tutor, the substantive and strategic details needed to individualize the lesson tend to get included, thus often greatly lengthening lesson design and preparation time.
The Computer as Tool
To function as a tool, the classroom computer need only have some useful capability programmed into it such as statistical analysis, super calculation, or word processing. Students can then use it to help them in a variety of subjects. For example, they might use it as a calculator in math and various science assignments, as a map-making tool in geography, as a facile, tireless performer in music, or as a text editor and copyist in English.
Because of their immediate and practical utility, many such tools have been developed for business, science, industry, government, and other application areas, such as higher education. Their use can pay off handsomely in saving time and preserving intellectual energy by transferring necessary but routine clerical tasks of a tedious, mechanical kind to the computer. For example, the burdensome process of producing hundreds or even thousands of employee paychecks can be largely transferred to the computer through the use of accounting software; the tedious recopying of edited manuscripts of texts or even music can be relegated to the computer through word or musical notation processing software; the laborious drawing of numerous intermediate frames for animated cartoons can be turned over to the computer through graphics software; or the fitting of a curve to experimental data can be done by the computer through statistical software.
To use the computer as tutor and tool can both improve and enrich classroom learning, and neither requires student or teacher to learn much about computers. By the same measure, however, neither tutor nor tool mode confers upon the user much of the general educational benefit associated with using the computer in the third mode, as tutee.
The Computer as Tutee
To use the computer as tutee is to tutor the computer; for that, the student or teacher doing the tutoring must learn to program, to talk to the computer in a language it understands. The benefits are several. First, because you can't teach what you don't understand, the human tutor will learn what he or she is trying to teach the computer. Second, by trying to realize broad teaching goals through software constructed from the narrow capabilities of computer logic, the human tutor of the computer will learn something both about how computers work and how his or her own thinking works. Third, because no expensive predesigned tutor software is necessary, no time is lost searching for such software and no money spent acquiring it.
The computer makes a good "tutee" because of its dumbness, its patience, its rigidity, and its capacity for being initialized and started over from scratch. Students "teach" it how to tutor and how to be a tool. For example, they have taught it to tutor younger students in arithmetic operations, to drill students on French verb endings, to play monopoly, to calculate loan interest, to "speak" another computer language, to draw maps, to generate animated pictures, and to invert melodies.
Learners gain new insights into their own thinking through learning to program, and teachers have their understanding of education enriched and broadened as they see how their students can benefit from treating the computer as a tutee. As a result, extended use of the computer as tutee can shift the focus of education in the classroom from end product to process, from acquiring facts to manipulating and understanding them.