Computers in Education
By Carla Cooper and Evelia Ramirez
December 2006, University of California at Berkeley
“Today, education is perhaps the most important function of state and local governments. Compulsory school attendance laws and the great expenditures for education both demonstrate our recognition of the importance of education to our democratic society. It is required in the performance of our most basic public responsibilities, even service in the armed forces. It is the very foundation of good citizenship. Today it is a principle instrument in awakening the child to cultural values, in preparing him for later professional training, and in helping him to adjust normally to his environment. In theses days, it is doubtful that any child may be reasonably expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity of an education. Such an opportunity, where the state has taken the opportunity to provide it, is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms” (Warren, Earl 1954).
As we approach 2007, computing has changed from pure equation processing technology, embodied by the MARK 1 at Harvard and the ENIAC at the University of Pennsylvania, to information processing technology. "To know... used to mean having information stored in ones memory. It now means the process of having access to information and knowing how to use it.” School boards and PTA’s once dictated what was necessary in the classroom. Now education experts and IT gurus set the bar. Use of computers combined with the internet make the distribution of information quick and equitable. Computers just make sense in the classroom. They improve higher order thinking skills and thereby fit in to the paradigm of the acquisition knowledge being cognitive. One teacher, Ikaika Plunkett of Kahuku High and Intermediate School in Hawaii, sums up the benefit of having his students complete their assignments via computer saying, "I used to spend 2 1/2 hours grading homework each night. Now the students get it instantaneously on the computer. They do the work and they know right away. It's a breakthrough for me." "This is the computer generation," said Michael Turico, chief technology officer for EdgePoint Technology, based in Phoenix. "If we can get them doing math problems instead of games, theoretically the scores should improve." However, despite the positive praise and the attributing of improved grades to computer use, some feel that the IT is not working fro them. Amanda Wilson, a ninth-grader at Kahuku, said she did better with a traditional textbook. Complaining that her grade slipped with the computer program, partly because the online tests required precise comma placement between answers and partly because her computer at home is broken she said, "The first trimester I got an A, and now I've got a C... I don't like computers. I think the teacher is a lot better because you can ask them questions".
Donald Bitier’s project PLATO introduced computing to the classroom. Bitier was a University of Illinois Professor who, in 1959, began a computer assisted learning model. His revolutionary project involved several thousand terminals in the Syracuse area. Through PLATO, he employed the practical applications of computing for use in studying reading and math. www.atariarchives.org Time Sharing that was first introduced in 1957 by Bob Bemer. But in 1963 John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz, fine tuned and successfully implemented the concept. John Kemeny was the thirteenth president of Dartmouth and he worked on the Manhattan Project. Together, he and Thomas Eugene, Kurtz a fellow professor at Dartmouth, went on invent the programming language, BASIC. This language was more flexible in the design of educational software than its predecessor FORTRAN and unlike COBAL it was not as business oriented.
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