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Characteristics of Computer

Speed, accuracy, diligence, storage capability and versatility are some of the key
characteristics of a computer. A brief overview of these characteristics are
Speed The computer can process data very fast, at the rate of millions of
instructions per second. Some calculations that would have taken hours and days to
complete otherwise, can be completed in a few seconds using the computer. For
example, calculation and generation of salary slips of thousands of employees of an
organization, weather forecasting that requires analysis of a large amount of data
related to temperature, pressure and humidity of various places, etc.
Accuracy Computer provides a high degree of accuracy. For example, the computer
can accurately give the result of division of any two numbers up to 10 decimal
places.
Diligence When used for a longer period of time, the computer does not get tired or
fatigued. It can perform long and complex calculations with the same speed and
accuracy from the start till the end.
Storage Capability Large volumes of data and information can be stored in the
computer and also retrieved whenever required. A limited amount of data can be
stored, temporarily, in the primary memory. Secondary storage devices like floppy
disk and compact disk can store a large amount of data permanently.
Versatility Computer is versatile in nature. It can perform different types of tasks
with the same ease. At one moment you can use the computer to prepare a letter
document and in the next moment you may play music or print a document.
Computers have several limitations too. Computer can only perform tasks that it has been
programmed to do. Computer cannot do any work without instructions from the user. It
executes instructions as specified by the user and does not take its own decisions.



Information Processing Cycle
To understand how a computer functions you must understand the information processing cycle.
What is the information processing cycle? The sequence of events in processing information, which includes (1) input, (2) processing, (3)
storage and (4) output. These processes work together and repeat over and over.
1. Inputentering data into the computer.
2. Processingperforming operations on the data.
3. Storagesaving data, programs, or output for future use.
4. Outputpresenting the results.


The Four Step Processing Cycle of a
Computer

Input raw information or data that is entered into a computer
Examples of Input letters or numbers entered on a keyboard, mouse click on a icon, photos,
videos songs.
Input devices: Keyboard, mouse, scanner, microphone

Storage when the computer save data, either in short term storage or long term storage
Example of Storage saved file, keyboard information stored in RAM
Storage devices: Hard disk drive, flash drives, CD/DVD disks, RAM, or ROM

Processing when the computer does something to the data, usually interprets the data
Example of processing add two numbers together, display a picture on the screen
Processing devices: CPU, central processing unit and now the video adapter

Output data after the computer has performed the process
Example of Output the number is displayed after addition, document is printed
Output devices: Monitor, printer, speakers




POSITIVE IMPACT AND NEGATIVE IMPACT OF COMPUTER
IN THE SOCIETY

POSITIVE IMPACT OF COMPUTER

It is obvious that the computer are revolutionizing our daily life.More and more educated people are being
attracted in using computers for solving their daily problems from word processing ,spreadsheet
calculation to solving a very complex simultaneous equation.The following are the basic reasons of
increasing attraction towards the use of computers in homes and offices.

-A tedious work can be carried out with the use of computers speedily and accurately.
-Instead using paper files and occupying large spaces,more information can be stored in small space
electronically that can be accessed as required.
-Computers possess multitasking and multiprocessing capabilities which facilities multifold operation on
data.
-Since the data are stored in electronic devices ,they can be easily accessed.
-Computers obey the instructions and they process the data impartiality during result processing.
-Documents can be kept secret with special login name and password protection.
- Safeguarding the Citizen: Computerized system provide various safeguarding systems.
*Personal data store by the police.
*Personal data stored by the local administrative bodies.
*Information about weather forecast.
*Information about natural calamities such as earthquake.
*Information about recent events of traffic ,road,etc.
-Social Effects(ATM,Visa card,MasterCard):People can use automated teller machine cards for
withdrawing money deposited with the help of ATM card ,Visa card or Master card.

NEGATIVE IMPACT OF COMPUTER.

Though computers has numerous positive implication ,some people show its negative impact in the
following points.They are:-

-The computers are highly expensive and they aren't affordable for general people.
-There are some methods people can pirate data for misuse.
-Since a computer can do works much faster ,less number for employees can do more work and it leads
to increased unemployment.
-Due to malfunction of the computer ,huge data and information can be lost.
-Computer technology is fast changing technology and we have to update accordingly which might
become difficult for small firms and schools.
-Due to the difficulty of data transmission we fail in providing proper services.
-Data Integrity and data Security.
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Computers in Education: A Brief History
By Andrew Molnar
06/01/97
The history of computers in education has been variously characterized as an
"accidental revolution" or "unthinking man and his thinking machines." Others
have said that the computer revolution has changed the adage that "necessity is
the mother of invention" to "in a computer world, invention is the mother of
necessity." However characterized, it is clear that innovators in this field have
created some of the most provocative and stimulating ideas in the history of
education. What follows is a brief chronological history of some of the more
interesting ideas and developments.
A CONFLUENCE OF CHANGES
Broadly speaking, the two major functions of education are to transmit the
culture, values and lessons of the past to the current generation; and to prepare
our children for the world in which they will live. Preparing children for the world
in which they will live is becoming more difficult than ever. In retrospect, there
has been a confluence of changes that have significantly impacted the direction
of modern education.
1. The Global Economy
Modern, high-speed computers and telecommunications have facilitated the
rapid movement of financial resources, goods and services, and have created an
interdependence among the worlds economies. To benefit from these markets,
nations must be competitive, and to be competitive they must have a well-
educated work force.
New, science-based, information industries are emerging in which knowledge
and human capital are as important as industrial plants. Daniel Bell says a major
characteristic of these industries is that they derive from work in theoretical
science and are dependent on the codification of theoretical knowledge. The
significance of this development is that if we choose to maintain our current
standard of living, our knowledge workers must compete in an international
market and must have a good understanding of science.[1]
2. The Scientific Information Explosion
We are experiencing a scientific information explosion of unprecedented
proportions. Today, scientists and engineers use computers to access thousands
of rapidly growing data bases that store numbers, words, maps, chemical and
physical structures; and they search them millions of times a year. The base of
scientific knowledge today is huge. It is estimated that it would take 22 centuries
to read the annual biomedical research literature or seven centuries to read a
years chemical literature.[2]
Not only is the volume of new information large, but it is growing exponentially.
Rapid changes in many fields are making basic knowledge and skills obsolete.
Knowledge is continually being modified and basic concepts and theories are
being revised. New theories emerge as new discoveries offer new ways of
looking at the data. Disciplines are merging and hyphenated sub-disciplines are
being formed.

Herbert Simon, Nobel Laureate, observed that the developments in science and
information processing technologies have changed the meaning of the verb, "to
know." It 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.[3]
3. The Emergence of Cognitive Science
There has been a major paradigm shift in education from theories of "learning" to
theories of "cognition." Cognitive science approaches teaching and learning in a
different way. It addresses how the human, as an information processor,
functions and uses information. Rather than focusing on teaching facts through
expository lectures or demonstrations, the emphasis is, instead, on developing
higher-order, thinking and problem-solving skills.
The cognitive approach is important because it recognizes human information
processing strengths and weaknesses, and the limits of human perception and
memory in coping with the information explosion. It focuses, instead, on
organizing information to fit human capacity, and has changed the emphasis in
education from learning to thinking.[4,5]
4. New Educational Demands
The launching of Sputnik, an unmanned Soviet satellite, in 1957 stirred national
interest in educational reform. Thus began what has been called the "golden
age" of education. Major national efforts were made to reform education.
While many of the problems in education were not new, other new and different
demands were changing the basic structure of education. First, there was a
change in national philosophy from a position of making mass education
available to many to a challenge to provide education for all. Second, we were
preparing children for a new type of society that did not yet exist.
Third, since people were now living significantly longer, formal education could
not end with a high school or even a college degree. Its estimated that workers
would have to prepare for two to three career changes in their lifetime. Fourth,
modern communications such as radio, film, television and computers had
created an information-rich society. Schools were no longer the only center of
information, but had to compete for student attention. Finally, the new emerging
educational technologies were to become an important catalyst for rethinking
education.
THE FIRST COMPUTERS
The history of the modern computer age is a brief one. It has been about 50
years since the first operational computer was put into use: the MARK 1 in 1944
at Harvard and ENIAC in 1946 at the University of Pennsylvania. Early use of
computers in education was primarily found in mathematics, science and
engineering as a mathematical problem-solving tool, replacing the slide rule and
thus permitting students to deal more directly with problems of a type and size
most likely to be encountered in the real world.[6

In 1959, at the University of Illinois, Donald Bitier began PLATO, the first, large-
scale project for the use of computers in education. The several thousand-
terminal system served undergraduate education as well as elementary school
reading, a community college in Urbana, and several campuses in Chicago.[7]
Thus, the era of computers in education is little more than 35 years old.[8]
The Early Pioneers
At Dartmouth, in 1963, John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz transformed the role of
computers in education from primarily a research activity to an academic one.
They did not like the idea that students had to stand in long lines with punch
cards for batch processing. So they adopted the recently demonstrated concept
of time-sharing that allowed many students to interact directly with the computer.
The university developed the time-shared system and expanded it into a regional
computing center for colleges and schools.[9] At the time, most programs were
written in machine language or FORTRAN. Kemeny and Kurtz developed a new,
easy-to-use language, called BASIC. It spread rapidly and was used for the
creation of computer-based instructional materials for a wide variety of subjects
and for all levels of education.
Computer-Assisted Instruction
In 1963, while at Stanford, Patrick Suppes and Richard Atkinson established a
program of research and development on computer-assisted instruction in
mathematics and reading. They sought to free students from the lock-step
process of group-paced instruction and developed individualized, instructional
strategies that allowed the learner to correct his responses through rapid
feedback. The self-paced programs allowed a student to take an active role in
the learning process. Mastery was obtained through drill-and-practice.[10]
Micro Worlds
In the early seventies at MIT, Seymour Papert set out to develop a new and
different approach to computers in education. He developed a programming
language, LOGO, to encourage rigorous thinking about mathematics.
He wanted it to be accessible to children and to be easy to express procedures
for simple tasks like many non-numerical problems familiar to children. He used it
to teach mathematics by teaching LOGO in a wide variety of interesting "micro
world" environments such as music and physics. Papert insisted that we should
not teach mathematics, but should teach children to be mathematicians. LOGO
soon became the language of the elementary school computer literacy
movement.[11]

The Constructivist approach viewed learning as a reconstruction of knowledge. Papert asserted that learning is more
effective when the learner actually constructs a meaningful product. In building computer-driven LEGO constructions,
the student learns to define a problem and the tacit practical problem-solving skills needed to solve it. Papert has
tried to move education from "computer literacy," an appreciation of computing, to "computer fluency," the application
of computers to solve real problems.[12]
RAPID GROWTH OF COMPUTER-BASED EDUCATION
In the late 1960s, in order to make access to computers widely available, the
National Science Foundation (NSF) supported the development of 30 regional
computing networks, which included 300 institutions of higher education and
some secondary schools. By 1974, over two million students used computers in
their classes. In 1963, only 1% of the nations secondary schools used
computers for instructional purposes. By 1975, 55% of the schools had access
and 23% were using computers primarily for instruction.[13]
The Microcomputer
Initially, because computers were expensive, educators purchased time-shared
systems and adopted procedures to ration or restrict usage to provide access to
as many people as possible given limited resources. In 1975 a remarkable thing
happened, the economics that once favored large, time-shared systems shifted
to low-cost microcomputers and the personal computer revolution began.
By the late seventies personal computers were everywhere -- at the office, the
schoolroom, the home, and in laboratories and libraries. The computer was no
longer a luxury, but was now a necessity for many schools and universities.
Many universities required incoming freshmen to own a computer. What began
as a grassroots revolution driven by students, teachers and parents, was now a
new educational imperative as important as having books and libraries.
THE EFFECTIVENESS OF COMPUTER-BASED EDUCATION
James Kulik at the University of Michigan performed a meta-analysis on several
hundred well-controlled studies in a wide variety of fields at the elementary,
secondary, higher- and adult-education level. He found that computer-based
education could increase scores from 10 to 20 percentile points and reduce time
necessary to achieve goals by one-third. He found that computers improved
class performance by about one-half a standard deviation, less than the one
sigma difference that could be accomplished by peer tutoring.[14] However, this
analysis did not include newer studies utilizing advanced technologies and newer
educational paradigms. But, this study did answer the question: do computer-
based technologies work? They most certainly do.

Intelligent Tutors
In the 1970s, researchers were looking for new educational paradigms to take
advantage of breakthroughs in computer technology. It appeared that the
combination of artificial intelligence, cognitive science and advanced
technologies could dramatically improve learning and problem solving. Intelligent
CAI (ICAI) was one such paradigm.
John Seely Brown developed SOPHIE (a SOPHisticated Instructional
Environment) as a new kind of learning environment in which the computer-
based instruction system literally understands its subject domain and can use its
knowledge base to help the student debug and articulate his own ideas and
reasoning strategies.[15]
John Anderson of Carnegie Mellon University developed a theory of cognition
(ACT) and developed ICAI tutors in algebra, geometry and teaching computer
programming languages. Andersons goal was to achieve a one sigma difference
in school performance. Results show a one letter-grade improvement for all
students.[16]
Intelligent Tools
Another approach was to build the intelligence into the tool. If educators were to
raise the entire level of educational performance, merely learning faster or better
would not be sufficient. Often the difficulty in problem solving is not inherent in
the nature of the problem, but in the tools available to us. Computer-aided design
and computer-aided manufacturing in engineering greatly empowered students
to achieve what professional engineers were able to accomplish using the older
methods. The aim was to build the intelligence into the tool and let students focus
on problem-solving and reasoning.
In another example of computer-aided performance, Wallace Feurzeig of BBN
developed an algebra workbench that has the intelligence to solve algebra
problems as directed by the student. The purpose was to create a rich
exploratory environment and introduce intelligent aids and computer tools to shift
the focus of instruction away from manipulative skills, something the computer
d'es well, to an emphasis on qualitative reasoning and problem solving. [17]
NEW TECHNOLOGY-BASED EDUCATION
Doing better is not the same as doing better things. Increasingly, many concepts
and ideas cannot be taught without the aid of technology to represent and
manipulate them. As a tool, high-speed computers revolutionized the
representation and manipulation of information. Computers became the new
instruments for extending our senses and intuition. Computer models,
simulations and other symbolic representations provided an environment for the
vicarious learning necessary to build human intuition. Modern science has, after
all, outstripped sensory experience. The new world of science was about
abstractions and complexity. Andrea DiSessa says the trick is not to turn
experiences into abstractions with a computer, but to turn abstractions, like the
laws of physics, into experiences.

New visual metaphors are needed to express abstract, dynamic, non-linear
concepts. For example, it is recognized that nature is full of something called
"deterministic chaos" or physical systems that obey deterministic laws at one
level, but behave unpredictably at another. Weather patterns, turbulence in air
currents, or the flow of liquids are examples of phenomena that cannot be easily
represented without computer techniques.
Mathematicians and scientists, as another example, found that traditional
Euclidean geometry was not adequate to represent many concepts in nature.
Fractal geometry was created to provide mathematical descriptions of irregular
and complicated phenomena such as the shapes of mountains and clouds and
how galaxies were distributed in the universe. Computer graphics are necessary
to represent the various fractal forms.
Integrating new important developments such as theories of fractals, chaos and
complexity into the curriculum traditionally takes about 20 to 30 years. Eugene
Stanley at Boston University has attempted to create a new model for combining
scientific research and education with the aim of shortening the long lead time for
incorporating new concepts into the educational process.
Stanley and an international group of researchers, who are conducting research
on chaos and fractal geometry in science, have created models for graduate
students on a supercomputer. With the aid of these students, they have created
lessons that can be downloaded for use on smaller RISC machines for
undergraduate education. Computer networks are being used to deliver the
models and concepts into high schools. Thus, new theories and concepts are
being introduced at all levels of education in a coherent and articulated manner
and are made available through a hierarchical, computer network. [19]
MANAGEMENT OF COMPLEXITY
The increased complexity in science exceeds human capability. Marshall
McLuhan says we are witnessing a revolution that is totally new and is changing
the very nature of human perception and experience. He says the computer and
television have literally moved us into the world of pattern recognition and out of
the world of mere data collection. [20]
Humans have difficulty in handling problems that involve large quantities of data
or have many interrelated structures. Today, information overload is a fact of life
and while it is not possible to meaningfully eliminate complexity, it is possible to
manage it.
1. Symbol Systems
New symbol systems have enabled scientists and mathematicians to make
dramatic breakthroughs.

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