Computers are an integral part of our world, and a college campus is no exception. In fact, many colleges started requiring students to have computers in the 1990s. Computer skills are important in college because students may be required to participate in web-enhanced courses, conduct research online and use basic computer applications. Connecting online with classmates and the college itself is another reason it is important for college students to have computer skills.
Participating In Web-Enhanced Courses
The popularity of online classes has grown tremendously in recent years, but web-enhanced classes have also grown in popularity. A web-enhanced course is one that meets face-to-face but also has an online component. A professor may use a web-based learning platform, such as Angel or Blackboard, to house important course documents like syllabi and reading assignments. A professor might also use one of these learning platforms to provide a space for students to have online discussions and collaborate outside of the physical classroom. The opportunities for web-enhanced courses are virtually limitless, and college students will need to be comfortable using their computer -- and the web -- to participate in courses that make use of virtual spaces.
Conducting Research Online
Researching information for papers and other assignments and presentations is an important part of college. Many colleges have tremendous online databases that have changed the way students conduct research. Depending on the size of the college, there may be numerous subscriptions to online databases like ERIC and JSTOR. These databases allow students free access to journals and other scholarly works. Outside of a college's library resources, students can make use of the Internet to retrieve robust information as they research and prepare to complete writing assignments. Many reputable news outlets, the federal government, as well as various organizations have a wealth of information online -- often accessible free of charge.
Using Basic Computer Applications
Many professors require that students type their assignments, in which case it is essential for students to have sufficient word processing and typing skills. Students can create tables, graphs and charts in these programs as well, and these may be required depending on the course. Furthermore, students often rely on programs such as PowerPoint to be used during oral presentations and speeches. Prospective or current college students who feel like they need to boost their basic computer skills can seek out assistance from their local or college library. In addition, some colleges may offer courses that provide an introduction to computers.
College students use computers and other devices like tablets and smartphones to connect with each other and the college they attend. Some colleges may require that students check email regularly. Social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr, have become so popular among college students that college organizations and officials are constantly seeking to stay in their students' virtual loops. A college student who does not at least have access to the college's website and email system may miss out on important news events and opportunities.
- Cause/Effect: Should Colleges and Universities Require Students to Own Their Own Computers?; Katheryn F. Gates
- Educause Quarterly: Classroom Teaching Changes In Web-Enhanced Courses: A Multi-Institutional Study; Robin Wingard
- Purdue OWL:Other Strategies for Web Searching
- The Chronicle of Higher Education: As Students Scatter Online, Colleges Try to Keep Up; Katherine Mangan
Evie Sellers is an educator based in Georgia. She has taught in public high schools, colleges and universities. Sellers holds a Ph.D., with primary research interests including teacher training issues, social justice and health issues.