Such number would considerably be large still, if the period when the benefits of the application of computer technology in education was implied, is taken into account. Computer technology for the use of students in schools started out as computer laboratories (Lynch, 2000), which until now, is continuously evolving to becoming a tool for learning. That the integration of computer technology in schools is still on process, suggests that although its advantages have been persistently advocated, there are also powerful sociocultural and developmental forces that oppose its progression.
According to Meredyth, et. al. , (1999), the status quo in the mode of instruction slows the efforts to integrate computer technology in secondary schools. At first, the people who were against the implementation of computer technology in schools argue that this would result in the replacement human instructors and making them obsolete (Richmond, n. d). As it becomes clear that the this would not necessarily become so, that is, there would only be an evolution of role from plain instructor to facilitator, the problem with the implementation now centers on the lack of physical resources (Richmond, n. d. ) and the instructors lack of training (Lynch, 2000).
This implies that the role of computer technology in the education of secondary students per se is not, today, the major consideration in its application and the need for a clear definition of its role is necessary to speed up decisions on whether there is really a necessity for the addition or retention of the number of computer hardware in schools, or should there be in need of compulsory technical training for instructors.
According to Richmond (n. d.), there are two major problems in the implementation of computer technology in education: (1) the goals and purposes of implementation are unclear; (2) the implementors do not fully understand the changes necessary for the implementation of technology in education. These problems must be addressed first if success is wanted. Although both are important aspects of the implementation, this paper will focus in defining the goal, purposes or role of computer technology in student achievement at the secondary school level.
To understand this critical role, it is very important to know first the basics about some theories of learning and its current application to education technology. The theory of Cognitive Constructivism states that learning happens through the learners active efforts to assimilation new information imposed either by the instructor or by self-discovey (Theories of Learning, 2006). This means that learners must be able to relate what they learn to their experiences or experience the learning itself to be able to fully understand it.
One example of this is driving. In order to learn to drive a vehicle, one must not only know that vehicles are powered by gasoline, controlled using a steering wheel, has a gas pedal to move forward or backward and a break pedal to make it stop. He or she has to experience driving to know and fully understand the significance of each theory he or she is made to know. And this experience is very important if he or she is to make life-or-death decisions once he or she takes the road.
Computer technology, when related to learning may be applied in a similar way, by providing a means to simulate reality to give the students a feel of what may or may not happen as a result of their decisions. Such is the function of simulations: to instill in learners goals which are similar to reality and resultant feelings that are similar to what may happen in real life because of the as a result of the decisions imposed by the program. A lot of simulation programs have now been developed for different purposes.
Sim City provides the learner-gamer an experience of building a city and a feel of becoming a Mayor. The learner-gamer is subconsciously taught of the importance of planning and how each decision might give a positive effect (here, in the form of increase in the citys revenue) or negative (in the form of rallies and decrease in the citys revenue). Business simulations provide learners with vicarious experience of actually owning and handling investments without the need of using or losing real money.
Design programs provide the learner-designer with an idea or view of the possible perspectives or outcome of each design in mind and an opportunity to manipulate or change it according to his or her desires even before actual realization of the design. There are also simulations in many different subjects like biology physics and chemistry, which can provide the learner with the opportunity to visualize the theories and manipulate situations and then see the results as would happen if the theories are applied.
Simulations have been used for decades by the aviation and military industry and just until recently, the costs of simulations have prevented smaller institutions to avail its benefits (Boehle, n. d. ). Although, still not cheap, mass production, added to the said drastic improvement in learning retention rates (Boehle, n. d. ), simulations provide a very efficient tool for learning. There is a 75-80% boost in learning retention rate for students in simulations (Boehle, n. d. )
Social Constructivism believes that knowledge is socially constructed, that is, retention of information is achieved through group efforts (Theories of Learning, 2006). This is learning with others and through others input and ideas conjoined with ones own. This theory emphasizes the importance of others opinion usually for the purpose of the improvement of the said work. Applied to computer technology in its role in secondary education, this allows for interaction among many different people, not limited to those in classroom but also stretches to people in different time zones.
This allows for assimilation of new and varied ideas from different people from different places who usually have different ideas about different issues, strengthening ones reasoning and improving ones knowledge about many different areas and at the same time improving ones social skill. The most usual form of technology which applies the Social Constructivism theory is forums. A lot of forums can be found in the internet, all areas of knowledge with its own: arts, sciences, mathematics, and philosophy.
The Theory of Behaviorism believes that knowledge is a repertoire of behavioral responses to environmental stimuli (Theories of Learning, 2006). According to this theory, learning happens through repetition and reinforcement, usually with the instructor speaking and the learner, listening. This learning theory is opposite of Cognitive Constructivism in that learners gain knowledge passively. This is the most common type of instructional mode used in schools.
Still, this instructional mode can also be applied to computer technology. Tutorials in cds are now widely available in the market. These products simulate what and how teachers teach in an actual class, explaining concepts with voice recordings combined with moving pictures for visualization. It also comes with practice exercises much like what teachers would give to their students to evaluate the students learning. The only difference is that, these products can be used by the student alone, even at home.