Why Computer Skills Are Important Part Of Online Learning

Students who learn by typing will beat anyone who learns online.  But, computer skills can be a distraction.

There is a tendency among some educators to often group students into “challenged” and “non-challenged” groups. This is a misdirection that many educators use to get students to think they are being assigned to a separate class than they truly are. It also distracts many of us from the real work of learning and finds us reaching for play rather than actually teaching. But what many educators call “non-challenged” can actually serve as a great class for students with computer skills who are not traditional computer engineers.

As a professional designer, I use many word processors to create my work and the word processing programs are often at odds with each other. It is possible for me to read what a computer program says and to know at any moment what is supposed to happen and what I am supposed to do. This in itself can be a great college course that many people never do because they think that they are not computer engineers. Computer engineering is a little like kinesiology. I must prove I am a great scientist just as I must prove that I am an excellent kinesiologist. As a personal example, I must prove that my computer can simulate the rubix cube in a world using computers that has no rubix cube to simulate. Even if you were to place a complete rubix cube in a real world with no rubix cube next to it, the algorithm for such a simulation will eventually prove me.

Computer engineering is like engineering of any discipline. It demands some real hands-on experience first. When you first use an item it tells you all you need to know about that item. Rarely can you learn something just by observing it in a classroom. Particularly this college course where you first have to prove that you are a computer engineer.

For example, let us say that my first attempt at testing a program incorrectly resulted in the chaser button becoming the outermost point. This did not prove to me that I was a good software developer, but it did prove that I had real computer skills.

Imagine that I want to make an end table using as a pattern an 18 inch 4, 4 cut piece of carpet that is lifted off the floor and is placed on a desk. I have the pattern, the remaining parts and the long term plan and after three months I have my end table.

After I have finished working on the project I take it to the item mat to obtain a sales receipt. My serial number appears on that receipt. The name and number of the inventors appears on my receipt. I am confident that I did not lose anything, make a mistake or take advantage of an innocent party. I did all I had to do.

I sent the receipt to a number of other computer engineers and that is where the copyright is claimed. My piece of foam had been appropriated from another designer. Of course, it was a design that at best did not have a true original intent.

Unfortunately I cannot achieve my goal with that same piece of furniture. That, because I cannot test every component correctly. Sometimes you can use the wrong parts and correct them and even though you do, the program does not give you an end table that was fully functional.

It is not like some people can operate the very core functionality of computers without knowledge of how to make the flawed parts.

Hopefully what is often considered a non-teaching, non-academic class is actually a practical engineering class. Like kinesiology, this also requires students to prove their mettle before getting a credit.

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