The importance of computer literacy cannot be stressed enough in the present day and age when a new model of imparting online education is converging. In the traditional classrooms, students have been used to one on one in-person interactions with the teachers and peers. The brick and mortar classrooms have acted as the designated places for such consortiums in schools or college campuses. Not many tools other than whiteboards, blackboards, projectors, and smart boards have been used for teaching conventionally. Supplementary content for academics has been made available through books in a library and some internet research. Even If one has not been trained enough in using computers, they could still survive through the pen and paper, moreover, they could get external help for anything complex they wanted to be done with the computers. So far the importance of Computer Literacy has been acknowledged but not mandated.
Why its high time that the importance of Computer literacy in education is unequivocally accepted and stressed on by the educational authorities for all and sundry?
The education delivery has been going through a sea change for a while and it has been accelerated recently because of the Covid-19 pandemic hitting the world. Suddenly the lockdown directives of governments across the world have forced the closure of schools and colleges to protect pupils from the deadly virus. The schools and colleges have started online education through virtual classrooms. The dissemination of education in the absence of conventional classrooms for both tutors and students has forced them to adapt to the new online learning paradigm in a rush. This scenario is now encouraging everyone to hone their skills at using computers, computing devices, and related applications efficiently thereby underling the importance of computer literacy in online education more earnestly than ever.
The requirement of the Fundamental Operational Skills and Importance of Computer literacy in online education
There are some fundamental computer operational skills that an individual should possess irrespective of being an instructor or a learner. These skills are imperative to effectively harness the online education platforms. Having such exposure helps incumbents to concentrate on what is being explained rather having to strain their brain waves towards figuring out how to make a computer or a device work for them. Everyone is expected to possess some basic knowledge and skills around Computer Operating Systems like Windows, iOS, macOS, and Androids. Some of the desired skills expected of individuals could be to be able to perform the following actions:
- Start and log in to a computer or a device.
- Browse through the folder and file structures
- Find and start an application
- Switch between applications
- Save a file or a document on a computer or to the device
- Exit an application
- Retrieve an earlier saved file or document.
- Install/Uninstall Applications
- Shutdown a device or a computer
Familiarity with Essential Applications for Successful Dissemination of Online Education
Depending on one’s role as a teacher or the taught in the class, one is expected to have the right expertise to make expert use of some computer-based applications viz.:
- Word processing software
- Spreadsheet application
- Presentation applications
- Internet Browser
- Should know how to compose, send, and receive emails.
Additional application Skills (to that of students) desired for Tutors:
- Video editing software
- PDF creator applications
- The Printer and Scanner applications
- Applications like Google forms to create online quizzes
- Manage emails using appropriate clients
Effective use of Communication & Collaboration Software
The virtual classrooms are different than the conventional classrooms though each of them has some communication protocols which need to be followed likewise the virtual classrooms for the online training have their conventions. A few basic operational skills and discipline is desired of all the participants so that the teachers and pupils have meaningful interactions. Not possessing appropriate skills or disciple can ruin the learning experiences for the participants. For example, the lack of knowledge can cause avoidable bloopers such as:
- Participants speaking on phone, talking to other people around or playing music while not keeping the microphone on mute in the virtual classroom thereby causing great disturbance
- Speaking over others for the lack of knowledge of the virtual conversational features such as raising a hand to indicate to the chair that one wants to speak up thus making the conversation difficult to comprehend for the participants.
- Participants may have to refer to the content displayed in multiple open windows for effective learning cyclically but failure to use the multitasking capabilities of the computer could be a limitation.
- Members of virtual classes could interfere with the flow of the class by using the whiteboard tool like features inadvertently out of mischief
- They could engage in excessive text chats a facility provided with the virtual classes platform which has the potential to disturb the virtual class
To avoid nuisance, certain skills and desired behaviors are expected from all like:
- Log on to access virtual team rooms.
- To operate the webcam and microphone
- Should be able to use whiteboards
- Modalities of using screen sharing options
- Effective use of text chats
- Effective use of breakout areas
- Do’s and Don’ts about when and how to speak up
The virtual model of studies could be made way more productive and effective should the importance of computer literacy in the online education is given its due weightage and is followed up with a time-bound action plan by the concerned authorities to provide infrastructure and initiative to inspire people to instill these skills.