Technologies are the phenomenon that has a great impact on modern society. It affects almost all the spheres of social life, including education and learning. Moreover, contemporary children are fully acquainted with the world of computers nowadays. It means that teachers should have a rich knowledge of both traditional educational strategies and new approaches, based on technological progress. The contemporary learning environment differs from the one that existed several years ago, as the children’s physical, intellectual, cultural, and social experiences depend a lot from what they see on different kinds of screens, starting from television and ending with tablets. As long as the new generations of learners are affected by technologies, it is necessary to discuss the possibility of computer-assisted education, especially in the elementary school classroom, which is the most vulnerable and delicate. Obviously, computers can be applied on the different stages of the educational process, but their role can be both positive and negative.
First of all, it is necessary to discuss the influence of computers on children’s learning abilities, including the development of the skills, beliefs, and behavioral patterns that can be further used in adult life. According to Rosin (2014), the new generations of people are already affected by computers and this fact cannot be ignored. The author believes that children’s way of learning through tablets has both positive and negative consequences, as long as they are already familiar with all the related concepts, including engagement and procrastination (Rosin, 2014). The absorption of some linguistic or cognitive skills may take various forms. The elementary school curriculum usually includes different kinds of activities, and some of them appear to be more interesting when delivered through technologies.
The study conducted by Roschelle, Pea, Hoadley, Gordin, and Means (2000) has investigated the ways computers can improve the educational process. The scholars have found out that technologies provide support for such features of learning as children’s active engagement, their willing participation in groups, frequent interaction and feedback, and clear connections to various real-world contexts (Roschelle et al., 2000). Still, the scholars also agree that the use of technology requires improvements in teacher training, curriculum, and student assessment (Roschelle et al., 2000). As long as contemporary computers are equipped with smart interactive programs that aim to develop children’s critical thinking and imagination, they usually succeed in bringing out the students’ enthusiasm and curiosity.
Next, there is a close relationship between the computer-assisted education and children’s motivation to learn. As it was stated by Roschelle et al. (2000), the fact that there are computers in the classroom does not ensure that these instruments will be used effectively. Some teachers and most parents believe that educational video programs are equal to the ordinary video games, which means that they are harmful. Obviously, technologies can be distracting, as almost every person experienced it themselves. However, Rosin (2014) claims that there is no difference between the video games and other activities, as long as they are used wisely (p. 499). There is no doubt that children enjoy computer-based lessons a lot, as they feel that they are engaged in contemporary activities, similar to what their parents do at home.
Clear language, explanations, illustrative examples, and visual aids provided by technologies are the tools that make a valuable contribution to the development of children’s motivation to learn. Considering the fact that computers are closely connected to the real world, the relevant context appears to be quite helpful. In such a way, it seems that computers can either be distracting and addictive or be the source of learning math and foreign languages, depending on how these technologies are applied. Therefore, the more teachers know about computers and their use in education, the more benefit children will get from computer-assisted education. Also, it is the teachers’ role to promote the ideas of conscious consumption of technologies among children.
Generally, the biggest problem related to computers is the issue of multitasking and procrastination. There is no doubt that technologies provide people with an endless number of distractions. Most activities associated with computers are more interesting than routine. Still, an advantage of computer-assisted education is that it is based on the idea of play-based learning, meaning that there is no way for children to be distracted. According to Barblett (2010), the early childhood development uses learning through play as a background for the rest of knowledge, as children’s brains become inventive, flexible, and more skillful. Being a combination of critical thinking, emotions, and actions, play enables the development of the skills that are needed every day. While playing, children feel free to make personal choices without being judged or punished (Barblett, 2010). As a result, they become more confident and thoughtful. If the teachers are able to implement the relevant pedagogical practices, this process will become even more fruitful. Those schools which consider playing as one of their major instruments usually enjoy higher levels of tolerance and mutual understanding between the children from different cultural backgrounds. It is important to address children’s motivation and creativity while teaching, and the positive impact of computers is clear here. However, not all the schools can afford to organize computer-based learning. The problem of inequality is especially visible here.
Due to the constant technological progress, all the aspects of life are changing nowadays. Computers and other technologies influence the way children learn and this process has both positive and negative effects. It seems that the most appropriate learning instruments are those that can stimulate children’s desire to learn and get knowledge. The discussion of pros and cons of using computer-assisted education in the elementary school classroom requires a constant update, as long as the global situation changes every day.
- Barblett, L. (2010). Why play-based learning? Every Child, 16(3). Retrieved from
- Roschelle, J., Pea, R., Hoadley, C., Gordin, D., & Means, B. (2000). Changing how and what children learn in school with computer-based technologies. The Future of Children, 10(2), pp. 76-101. doi:10.2307/1602690
- Rosin, H. (2014). The touch-screen generation. Acting out culture: Readings for
critical inquiry, edited by James S. Miller, Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2014, pp. 484-499.