Computer-based Training and Adult Education ( ABET )
To the educated person, computer based ABET may appear to be a quick and intelligent solution to adult education challenges. Indeed there are still masses of illiterate people in South Africa. The so-called benefits are obvious. Or are they really? If computer-based training and adult education and was a totally effective and efficient way of development for basic education such as at the AET/ABET level, then surely our schools should be replacing teachers with computers?
When an individual is functionally illiterate and/or cannot yet read or write, he/she has to learn how to manipulate the movements of the hand and eyes to enable him/her to form the letters, symbols and later words and problems. The most effective way to teach someone the differences between the 26 symbols of the alphabet, lies in the person physically experiencing the differences in forms i.e. by actually writing it.
When a person learns to write, he/she uses an enormous amount of fine muscles in the body to develop the perceptual ability to write. The development of these fine muscles is vital in handwriting. In fact, when you write, even the fine muscle movements in the stomach are used to facilitate writing. Because many people who are not yet literate have never developed their perceptual abilities, these need to be developed prior to the development of reading and writing.
If this part of the learner’s development is overlooked, or not developed, he/she will experience serious learning difficulties at later stages. The development of hand-eye-coordination, fine and gross muscle movement, laterality, spatial relationships etc are paramount to the development of reading, writing and mathematics.
An illiterate person may have trouble in recognising the difference between letters such as b, d, p and q, because they are visually similar symbols.
- In order to recognise the differences between these symbols, the learner must know the difference between a circle, square and rectangle.
- He/she also has to understand the differences between top, bottom, left and right otherwise, he cannot see the difference in the symbols.
- In order for the learner to see the differences, he has to experience it.
- He/she can only experience it through writing.
Using the computer to teach English, forces the learner back into the formal approach of learning grammar, instead of using English as a communication language. The computer is restricted to responding to very structured and absolute answers, thus inhibiting the learner’s ability to give his own opinion and express his feelings, which is a vital part of developing the knowledge, skills and attitudes and values. The limitations of computer-based training and adult education ( ABET ) programmes are vast, because a human being cannot build a relationship with an innate object such as a computer.
The same applies to any other learning area i.e. maths. Unlike what we were taught at school, maths is a critical thinking subject. The correct answer isbut a fraction of what the learner is able to do, it is the thinking process that is applied that matters, because this is the process that makes sense to the learner. In OBET and learner-centred learning, this is essential.
The belief that the computer will end all educational problems, is a fallacy. The computer and its components are learning aids and if applied in this way, can be useful.
The answer is in fact very simple. The computer is a deserving educational resource, but its inability to interact and build a relationship with an individual, embrace his/her own opinions, views and feelings, limits its ability to replace the facilitator. Nothing can replace the physical facilitator in the class whocaptures the needs of the learners so that the learner can focus on what is important to him/her and applies in his context. No computer can do this.
Triple E Training Holdings (Pty) Ltd