Over-glorified paper. That is exactly how I think most people today treat computers. The power of computing can be used for so much more. However, the masses tend to just see them as over-glorified paper. Personally, it frustrates me that even governments, universities and large organisations fall into this trap of treating computers as over-glorified paper.
In most organisations, computers are merely used to keep track of information – records. They are used as over-glorified filing cabinets to store lots of typed up documents called files. Let us be honest with ourselves. Just look around and you will see that this is how most of us use computers. To type up reports, organise and store them in the computer.
In some organisations, computers are slightly elevated to information sharing. When information needs to be exchanged between parties, the files are retrieved from the computers and emailed over to the other party. This is just one caveman step above actually printing out the records and passing them to the other person to be re-entered in as another computer file. I’m sure that this caveman method is still in use.
However, the power of computers will never be realised until computers are actually used to process information. There is so much that computers can help us with, particularly in the the elimination of human error. Few organisations actually reach this level of computer use because few have the necessary expertise to afford such a system.
The recent fiasco with our APEX university accidentally accepting more students than they did, is reflection of a badly implemented computer system. Obviously, it was caused by human error, where the officer in charge accidentally uploaded more names than he/she was supposed to. You can see how this problem could have been easily avoided by merely removing the need for any sort of manual data entry.
Applicants should be encouraged to apply to the university by filling up an online form, which will capture the necessary information. Then, in an environment that uses computers to process information, the computer will perform all the necessary evaluation and acceptance of students into the university, based on specific criteria listed in the algorithm chosen. Then, the computer would automatically release the results to the students as well. In all this, the only time a human needs to get involved is to manually fix some problems, e.g. when the computer cannot decide on the placement of certain students.
Unfortunately, this obviously wasn’t the case – not just for our APEX university, but also for almost everything else.