Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Computers in the Classroom Controversy

By Sean Scarpiello

While technology continues to advance at such a fast rate in the United States, schools are struggling to keep up with these fast paced changes. So, many schools in the United States continue to invest in the newest and fastest computers and tablets. Most teachers, students, and parents feel that as technology changes in the real world it is only natural for technology to progressively move into classrooms. But while most education professionals support technology in education, there are still others which feel that all of the new integrative technology in classrooms will hinder students.

One of the major fears of education professionals is complete reliance on technology. Some believe that as computers are being used more and more in our everyday lives, that schools will eventually dismiss the old fashioned pencil, paper, and textbook. I feel that this is very unlikely. Young students will always need to be taught how to write legibly, spell, and read from books. Plus, everyone continues to use these basic skills in their daily lives. Since members in society continue to handwrite notes, and read newspapers or menus there will always be a need for these skills. One problem I can see with too much technology in classrooms would be that students can often become too dependable on computers. For example, students may become too accustomed to spell checking applications on computers. These dependencies can then resurface in handwritten notes where students forget how to spell certain words simply because spell check was always there to correct it in the past.

Other professionals feel that when students learn from computers, the technology turns learning into a game rather than a sequence of problem solving. This argument may hold some water; however, I think that it is important to make learning interactive and fun for the students. This then allows students who typically lose interest or become frustrated with learning to keep trying. No one ever said that learning needs to be a long and tedious process. In fact, if students enter school with a positive mindset and are anxious to learn because it is fun, then they may learn even more. When compared to a classic pencil and paper worksheet, worksheets on an iPad allow students to check their work and see not only what they answered incorrectly, but why they were wrong. Technological “worksheets” may also allow students who excel in an area to be challenged more, while giving extra support to those who struggle with certain material. Technology essentially allows for a more individualized lesson, where as traditional education can appear cookie-cutter or not as tailored to every student’s needs.

One last problem that too much technology can cause in classrooms is the lack of personal interaction. As I have stated in past blog articles, large amounts of technology can also breed hermits. While social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter connect us, they equally disconnect us as people. In general, I feel that most education professionals recognize this idea and are ensuring that curriculums are set up so that there are enough teacher-student and student-student interactions.

Ultimately, we can see that while there is opposition to computers in classrooms, there is a lot of support for technology well. This essentially allows us to conclude that there should be a steady balance of instruction from teachers and technology. Society should never reach a point where a class is completely individualized technology based or a completely cookie-cutter education. Education needs to find a medium between the two extremes and in the next few generations of students we will be discovering exactly what works with education and technology and what does not.




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