Computer mediated communication (CMC) can benefit education when it is used in the right ways. Many studies support that the use of CMC in the classroom can positively contribute to education. Studies believe the use of CMC in classrooms will continue to grow, but it will not replace face-to-face discussions.
Comeaux’ (1995) study looked at two classrooms that used CMC over a distance learning network. One class (the criminal justice class) was run very successfully with its use of CMC. The teacher was humorous when it came to glitches in the technology (Comeaux, 1995). The instructor was very good at engaging the students by encouraging them to ask questions and she was receptive to their suggestions. The class was overall very successful (Comeaux, 1995). The other class (a social science class) was not as successful. The teachers were not very good at engaging the students in the class discussion and they often showed frustration when there were technology glitches (Comeaux, 1995). The social science class was overall not successful.
Althaus’ (1997) study looked at the use of CMC in a university classroom that used online discussions compared to a classroom that used only face-to-face discussion. The students who used online discussions reported they learned more and they received higher grades (Althaus, 1997). The students who were only in the face-to-face discussion section said they wished they had participated in the online discussions.
Bailey and Cotlar’s (1994) study looked at the benefits of teaching over the Internet. They claimed that students are given opportunities they would not have been given if they did not have the Internet. The students have the opportunity to interact with other students around the world and they are exposed to cultures other then their own. The Internet also provides efficient and cost efficient methods that the traditional classrooms cannot offer (Baliey & Cotlar, 1994). The use of email allows teachers and students to interact fairly quickly and at asynchronous times. Kuehn’s (1994) study claims the Internet is not going anywhere and the use will continue to grow especially in college and universities.
McComb’s (1994) study claims that CMC supports involvement and initiative in students. It does not completely replace face-to-face discussions but it enhances education through its offerings (McComb, 1994). Most studies on CMC claim that CMC’s benefits outweigh the drawbacks.
Drawbacks of CMC include students’ frustrations with the technology. Some students claim they feel more comfortable in a traditional learning environment because they are used to it, since they have been exposed to this type of learning their whole life. Other drawbacks of CMC include teachers’ poor proficiency with the technology that hinders the students from learning. In Comeaux’ (1995) study students reported being dissatisfied with the social science class because the teachers had so many problems with the technology. The teachers did not give all the students equal opportunity to participate in the discussions because they were busy tinkering with the technology.
Computer mediated instruction fits into a communication curriculum where the teacher sees fit. A teacher can use CMC in any area of teaching they feel comfortable with. A teacher would make an informed decision about when and when not to rely on communication technology in a classroom based on their proficiency with the technology and their students’ receptiveness to the technology. Some students prefer not to work with technology, but most students have had the opportunity to work with technology.
Computer mediated instruction fits into the issue of student learning style preferences in a few different ways. First, students of this era have a short attention span and technology helps to keep the students interested. Second, some students prefer to use technology in the classroom because they have grown up using it throughout school. All students have had to use technology in school in some way. Some students have become accustomed to it, while others have had a hard time adjusting. For the students whom do not like technology, they have a hard time adjusting to classes that use technology. IT’s are available at most schools to help teachers and students out with their technological problems. Technology does not work well with audio learners because most of the technology use in the classroom is visual. Visual learners often benefit from the use of technology in the classroom. Most visual learners like the use of PowerPoint in a lecture.
Lucas’ (1996) statement implies that CMC has the ability to take over face-to-face discussions. Lucas’ (1996) statement seems logical when you take into consideration the fast rise of technology use in education. At the rate that technology is going today, I believe it is possible instructional technology could take over face-to-face classrooms. McComb’s (1994) study does not believe that technology will take over face-to-face discussions. Most studies believe technology is here to enhance the classroom and it will never take over the face-to-face discussions. I believe that more recent students in the late 2000’s would disagree and say there is a strong possibility technology could take over the face-to-face classrooms in the future. There are already online degrees offered through many different universities. It does seem like technology will be the way of the future in education.
Computer mediated instruction assessment methods could be developed in connection with its usage in a communication course in many different ways. The students could email the instructors their assignments. This would show students know how to use email, and they could turn in their assignments at the same time. Or the students could be tested on their use of blackboard, webtc, or whatever interactive learning program they use. The students could be required to post on the discussion boards and be graded for it. The students could be required to use technology in a presentation. For example in an oral communication class the students are required to use PowerPoint in one of their speeches. All the ways mentioned above could be used to effectively assess students on their use of technology.