Is Tech Making School Better or Worse?

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Technology has taken over the classroom in recent years. Many schools use tablets or laptops in the classroom to help foster technological skills and increase engagement in the classroom. However, tech in the classroom has a host of problems including increased distractibility and more instances of cheating. Below, is a pros and cons list of having technology in the classroom along with some tips to help students get the most out of education technology. 

Pro’s:

Communication: Successful students learn how to advocate for themselves at school. Access to the plethora of communication tools on a tablet or laptop makes this skill easy to practice. From sending professional emails to asking for help through apps like Edmodo and Google Classroom, students can learn a host of valuable communication skills to help develop their ability to advocate for themselves. 

Participation: Teachers who use technology to enhance lesson plans have found many ways to increase participation both inside and outside the classroom. Gamified learning like Kahoot or Quizlet has made classroom participation simple. That disinterested student hiding in the back of the room or the shy student who knows the answer but doesn’t want to raise her hand can now participate fully without social pressures. Outside of the classroom, teachers can send helpful video lectures, flashcard sets, or even make themselves accessible for instant messaging.  

Tech Competency: Technology is the future. Some people say that we should be teaching coding instead of foreign languages in school because coding is the language of the future. Having technology in the classroom, makes skills like coding easily teachable. Successful students who can quickly become proficient in today’s technology have the world at their fingertips. STEM education is constantly promoted through curriculum development and scholarship incentives. Technology in the classroom is just another way to promote this STEM based learning approach. 

Information access: The days of library research and encyclopedias are long gone. Students can access helpful information online instantaneously. Access to information helps students apply their learning to real world problems and creates an environment of innovation. Technology has also allowed the majority of students to access information that was previously reserved for extremely specialized or expensive schools. For example, every year high school chemistry students struggle to visualize the chemical bonds they are studying. Since tech was introduced in the classroom, these students can access helpful three-dimensional models to help them understand the structure of various compounds. 

Responsibility: Self-advocacy through communication is just one part of the puzzle for successful students. Access to technology allows students to keep an eye on their grades and make responsible choices about attending tutorials and asking teachers for help. Technology has given students control of their progress. Instead of relying on sporadic report cards and parent intervention, successful students can stay on top of their performance, preventing the occasional late grade from snowballing. 

Automation: Students are forgetful. From forgetting to submit their essay to Turnitin.com to leaving their soccer cleats at home before a big game, students cause problems for themselves everyday by depending on themselves to remember. Access to technology lets students access the awesome power automation to build habits and routines. Successful students can set reminders, build calendars, and create checklist to take some of the pressure off the brain to remember everyday tasks. 

Con’s

Increased Distractions: One of my high school teachers once said “I cannot compete with the entertainment that is the internet. Therefore, there will be no laptops out during my lectures.” From Fruit Ninja to Fortnite, teachers compete with technology every day to keep students on task. Already distractible students have a very difficult time paying attention in schools when technology is present. These students don’t necessarily have to be the one using the technology to be off task. If a student that sits in front of the class is playing a game on their computer instead of taking notes, it is highly likely that at least one student behind them will be off task as well. Teachers have gotten better at controlling the distractibility of these devices, but it remains an uphill battle. 

Increased Academic Dishonesty: Access to the internet during test and quizzes or while writing papers has caused instances of cheating and plagiarism to skyrocket. With easy access to information and resources, the temptation to take shortcuts has become extremely alluring. There are even companies selling essays and online homework answers to students all over the country. One or two strikes of plagiarism or cheating on a student’s record can make high school or college applications dicey, and technological access is not helping. 

Cyber Safety: Along with the dangers of plagiarism and cheating, technology has also made students susceptible to the other dangers of the internet. Cyber security is increasingly important in today’s tech friendly environment. Students sometimes don’t understand the ramifications of their actions on the internet (or social media) and don’t see the danger in providing confidential information online. 

Less Social interaction: Walking into a cafeteria or student activities center nowadays can shed light on an alarming problem: students talk to each other as often as they should. Decreased social interaction is a direct result of technology in the classroom. Because students are not socializing as much because of the internet, they are not developing the valuable social skills that they need for a successful future. 

So, is technology making the classroom better or worse? The argument could made for either side, but the benefits of technology seem to outweigh the dangers. Technology in the classroom is only going to increase in the next decade, and it is extremely important that we develop strategies to make sure that this tech revolution remains productive. For tips on how to avoid the dangers of educational technology and use these tools to bolster your academic success, check out this blog post or our one on one academic coaching services here http://saotg.com/one-on-one-coaching/

Chris Chambers

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