Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Overcoming the Fear of Too Much Technology in the Classroom

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.  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 , there are still others who feel that all of the new integrative technology  will hinder students in the classroom.

One of the major concerns education professionals have is completely relying 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 textbooks. Plus, adults continue to use these basic skills in their daily lives. Since members of society continue to handwrite notes, and read newspapers or menus there will always be a need for these skills. One problem I can see regarding too much technology in classrooms is students  becoming 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 when students forget how to spell certain words, simply because spell check was always there to correct the word. Despite the need to stick with some of the traditional paper and pencil methods of learning, students can also benefit by learning skills such as typing, coding, and troubleshooting on the computer at younger ages.

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 water; however, I think that it is important to make learning interactive and fun for the students. This then engages students who typically lose interest or become frustrated with learning to continue 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 comparing  a classic pencil and paper worksheet, to worksheets on an iPad, the iPad allows 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 more individualized lessons, whereas traditional education can appear to be cookie-cutter or not tailored to individual student’s needs.

One last problem that too much technology in the classroom can cause  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 curricula are set up so that there are enough teacher-student and student-student interactions. In fact, computer based group discussions and problem solving can actually act as a fantastic method of teaching student to work and learn together.

Ultimately, we can see that while there is opposition to computers in classrooms, there is a lot of support for technology as well. This essentially allows me 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 needs to find a medium between the two extremes. Within 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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