Monday, July 30, 2012

The Changing Ways of Education in the Computer Age written by Samantha Gary

The Changing Ways of Education in the Computer Age
Written by Samantha Gary

Computers have done many things for our society—there's no denying this. We could (and many have) go on and on about how revolutionary computer technology has been for the current age. Today "the computer age" means so much more than it did even 10 years ago. In just a decade, the "computer age" has become the "age of the internet". Computers and the online world too have done endless things for the betterment of our society. Education is one area that the online world and computer technology have influenced greatly. As the world of computer technology continues to play a larger role in our everyday lives, the world of online education and the online classroom have gained more attention and acceptance. Of course, with anything there are both merits and disadvantages to how the online world and computer age have influenced education.

Accessibility to Higher Ed
For some time, online education was frowned upon in the academic world. With a history of focusing on reputation, the higher education world took some time to adapt to the idea of online learning. However, today many online schools and online learning platforms are praised by academic and student alike. One merit of modern computer technology and online education is broader accessibility to higher academia. Where at one time a college degree was limited to those who had the money and flexibility to attend college for four years at a brick and mortar institution, online degree programs have opened up new avenues for the non-traditional student. More and more people are earning degrees while also maintaining fulltime jobs or raising a family with the help of online learning and computer technology.

Access to Resources
The undeniable merit of modern technology and the online world is immediate and vast access to educational resources. With tools like Wikipedia, TED, Khan Academy, and so much more, students of any age have access to endless knowledge and tools for learning. These resources help students understand topic they've explored in school, introduce them to new and exciting topics, and provide a more thorough understanding of academic issues. The web is a vast expanse of useful information and tools that students, parents, and teachers can all utilize to better experience the educational world and academic material. Online platforms have made it easier for collaborative learning across cultures and the online educational world has broadened our perspective as human beings.

Possibility of Misinformation
While vast amount of information can be an extremely positive thing, it also comes with its setbacks. Because the web offers a completely open experience, there is the ever-looming possibility of misinformation. This issue in academics often comes up when discussing online research and Wikipedia. Because anyone can make a claim and post it somewhere online, the validity of information found online should be examined. While many of the tools and resources out there work to provide useful and educational material, there is always the possibility of mistake. While this can make online research more difficult and brings a somewhat negative perspective to online learning, the web should not be discredited for its usefulness. Technology has given the educational world so much. With greater accessibility to quality learning material, there comes greater accessibility to bad learning material.

Samantha Gray is an expert in online education and a freelance writer. Pursuing an online bachelor's degree is often fraught with myths and misconceptions. Samantha shows her readers the way. She wants to hear your feedback and ideas, too, at

Monday, July 23, 2012

How We Communicate Through Digital Devices by Rob Pell

Rob Pell is a freelance writer who works in the field of digital communications.

You can visit Rob's website @

Thank you Rob for your contribution to The Guest Writer Blog

How We Communicate Through Digital Devices
Written by Rob Pell
The digital age has made the spread, flow and reception of information far easier, so it’s no wonder that it has also dramatically altered the ways in which we communicate with one another. Traditional factors that drove conversation in bygone ages have disappeared and been replaced with new methods of communication.
Even the dynamics of communication have changed; once upon a time we had to be where we said we were going to be at any given time, now this is not the case. The increased reliability of digital communication devices that can be used on the move has, in turn, allowed humans to become less reliable.
Whether this has made us better communicators or worse communicators is a matter of debate. What is certain though is that the ability to send a text to a friend explaining that we will be late or requesting to meet in a different location has introduced levels of insincerity into the communicative process that previously did not exist.
These new methods of communication have skewed the way in which we perceive ourselves as individuals and as parts of a group. The connectivity of digital devices means that we are almost never truly alone; we are almost inescapably connected to all our friends and contacts, 24/7.
This connectivity means that, while we previously had very clear perceptions of what it means to be alone or together, the lines are now blurred. We now operate a sort of ‘communication hierarchy’ where certain methods of communication are given more prestige than others.
For example dumping someone or passing on important information by text is considered a major no-no, while telephoning someone to give them a textable piece of micro-information is similarly a social faux pas.
The paraphernalia that comes with such digital communication devices has also altered the ways in which we communicate. While headphones have been available since the 1980s, the popularization of smartphones and other digital devices that double up as media players has led to a marked increase in their use.
Wearing headphones is akin to wearing a sign that says “don’t talk to me”, giving us a simple way of avoiding potentially important confrontation, discussion and communication. This form of non-communication is actually communicative in itself as it shows others how receptive we will be to interaction. , another modern communication anomaly.
Away from smartphones and portable devices – although not entirely disconnected, this is the digital age after all – are the worlds of Facebook, Twitter and other social networks that exist digitally online. These methods of communication – coupled with the rise of broadband internet –  unprecedented levels of cross-platform conversation.

Two friends might be discussing something via text; they may want to add a third friend to the conversation so they move to WhatsApp; one friend wants to share a video and does it quickly and easily on Twitter; the three friends then decide to organize something and so set up a Facebook group. This back and forwards, cross-pollination of information is something all effective digital communicators will be aware of, the ease of such complex communication in the modern age has made it a regular occurrence.
This is where the argument that modern technology is killing the art of communication falls apart; in many ways modern technology is giving communication an element of sophistication it has never enjoyed before. You could say that what we are experiencing is communication, but not as we knew it.