Effects of Using Instructional Technology in Colleges and Universities: What Controlled Evaluation Studies Say. This report and related issue briefs are available at: © 2003 SRI International Early studies of….
The Computer Technology
Computers are capable of doing more things every year. There are many advantages to knowing how to use a computer, and it is important that everyone know how to use them properly. Using the information I have gathered, and my own knowledge from my 12 years of computer experience, I will explain the many advantages of owning a computer and knowing how to use a PC and I will attempt to explain why you should purchase a computer and learn how to use one properly. Webster’s New World Compact Dictionary defines a computer as “an electronic machine that performs rapid, complex calculations or compiles and correlates data” (“Computer. ).
While this definition gives one a very narrow view of what a computer is capable of doing, it does describe the basic ideas of what I will expand upon. We have been living through an age of computers for a short while now and there are already many people world wide that are computer literate. According to Using Computers: A Gateway to Information World Wide Web Edition, over 250 million Personal Computers (PC’s) were in use by 1995, and one out of every three homes had a PC (Shelly, Cashman,& Waggoner, 138).
Computers are easy to use when you know how they work and what the parts are. All computers perform the four basic operations of the information processing cycle: input, process, output, and storage. Data, any kind of raw facts, is required for the processing cycle to occur. Data is processed into useful information by the computer hardware. Most computer systems consist of a monitor, a system unit which contains the Central Processing Unit (CPU), a floppy-disk drive, a CD-ROM drive, speakers, a keyboard, a mouse, and a printer. Each component takes a part in one of the four operations.
The keyboard and mouse are input devices that a person uses to enter data into the computer. From there the data goes to the system unit where it is processed into useful information the computer can understand and work with. Next the processed data can be sent to storage devices or to output devices. Normally output is sent to the monitor and stored on the hard-disk or to a floppy-disk located internal of the system unit. Output can also be printed out through the printer, or can be played through the speakers as sound depending on the form it takes after it is processed.
Once you have grasped a basic understanding of the basic parts and operations of a computer, you can soon discover what you can do with computers to make life easier and more enjoyable. Being computer literate allows you to use many powerful software applications and utilities to do work for school, business, or pleasure. Microsoft is the current leading producer of many of these applications and utilities. Microsoft produces software called operating systems that manage and regulate the information processing cycle.
The oldest of these is MS-DOS, a single user system that uses typed commands to initiate tasks. Currently Microsoft has available operating systems that use visual cues such as icons to help enter data and run programs. These operating systems are ran under an environment called a Graphical User Interface (GUI’s). Such operating systems include Windows 3. xx, Windows 95, and Windows NT Workstation. Windows 95 is geared more for use in the home for productivity and game playing whereas Windows NT is more business orientated.
The article entitled “Mine, All Mine” in the June 5, 1995 issue of Time stated that 8 out of 10 PC’s worldwide would not be able to start or run if it were not for Microsoft’s operating systems like MS-DOS, Windows 95, and Windows NT (Elmer-Dewitt, 1995, p. 50). By no means has Microsoft limited itself to operating systems alone. Microsoft has also produced a software package called Microsoft Office that is very useful in creating reports, databases, spreadsheets, presentations, and other documents for school and work. Microsoft Office:
Introductory Concepts and Techniques provides a detailed, step-by-step approach to the four programs included in Microsoft Office. Included in this package are Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Access, and Microsoft PowerPoint. Microsoft Word is a word processing program that makes creating professional looking documents such as announcements, resumes, letters, address books, and reports easy to do. Microsoft Excel, a spreadsheet program, has features for data organization, calculations, decision making, and graphing. It is very useful in making professional looking reports.
Microsoft Access, a powerful database management system, is useful in creating and processing data in a database. Microsoft PowerPoint is “. . a complete presentation graphics program that allows you to produce professional looking presentations” (Shelly, Cashman, & Vermaat, 2). PowerPoint is flexible enough so that you can create electronic presentations, overhead transparencies, or even 35mm slides. Microsoft also produces entertainment and reference programs. “Microsoft’s Flight Simulator is one of the best selling PC games of all time” (Elmer-Dewitt, 50).
Microsoft’s Encarta is an electronic CD-ROM encyclopedia that makes for a fantastic alternative to 20 plus volume book encyclopedias. In fact, it is so popular, it outsells the Encyclopedia Britannica. These powerful business, productivity, and entertainment applications are just the beginning of what you can do with a PC. Knowing how to use the Internet will allow you access to a vast resource of facts, knowledge, information, and entertainment that can help you do work and have fun.
According to Netscape Navigator 2 running under Windows 3. , “the Internet is a collection of networks, each of which is composed of a collection of smaller networks” (Shelly, Cashman, & Jordan, N2). Information can be sent over the Internet through communication lines in the form of graphics, sound, video, animation, and text. These forms of computer media are known as hypermedia. Hypermedia is accessed through hypertext links, which are pointers to the computer where the hypermedia is stored. The World Wide Web (WWW) is the collection of these hypertext links throughout the Internet.
Each computer that contains hypermedia on the WWW is known as a Web site and has Web pages set up for users to access the hypermedia. Browsers such as Netscape allow people to “surf the net” and search for the hypermedia of their choice. There are millions of examples of hypermedia on the Internet. You can find art, photos, information on business, the government, and colleges, television schedules, movie reviews, music lyrics, online news and magazines, sport sights of all kinds, games, books, and thousands of other hypermedia on the WWW.
You can send electronic mail (E-Mail), chat with other users around the world, buy airline, sports, and music tickets, and shop for a house or a car. All of this, and more, provides one with a limitless supply of information for research, business, entertainment, or other personal use. Online services such as America Online, Prodigy, or CompuServe make it even easier to access the power of the Internet. The Internet alone is almost reason enough to become computer literate, but there is still much more that computers can do.
Knowing how to use a computer allows you to do a variety of things in several different ways. One of the most popular use for computers today is for playing video games. With a PC you can play card games, simulation games, sport games, strategy games, fighting games, and adventure games. Today’s technology provides the ultimate experiences in color, graphics, sound, music, full motion video, animation, and 3D effects. Computers have also become increasingly useful in the music, film, and television industry.
Computers can be used to compose music, create sound effects, create special effects, create 3D life-like animation, and add previous existing movie and TV footage into new programs, as seen in the movie Forrest Gump. All this and more can be done with computers. There is truly no time like the present to become computer literate. Computers will be doing even more things in the future and will become unavoidable. Purchasing and learning about a new PC now will help put PC’s into the other two-thirds of the homes worldwide and make the transition into a computer age easier.