SMART boards. iPads. Laptops. Mobiles. Now that we’re comfortably settled into the 21st century, technology has become an integral part of everyday life. So it was only a matter of time until technological advancements made their merry way into our classrooms and curriculums, raising the question of whether they help or hinder the education and development of our children and young people.
Technological advancements mean that instead of reading dozens and dozens of books in the library to complete assignments, students can now simply access the internet on their laptop, mobile, tablet (and many more devices besides) to get hold of eBooks, facts, figures and the like. Just about everything is a click way!
This is derived from the fact that thanks to technology, communication is much easier and faster than it has ever been, so students can even get in touch with their peers instantly on Facebook, WhatsApp, by text and many other ways. In fact, according to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, 95% of 12-17 year olds use the Internet and 80% of them use social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace. The predicament is with access to information, tools and communication being so instantaneous that we no longer have to wait for practically anything.
Just think about all the memes, Instagram posts, cat videos and Facebook statues you’ve looked at today- instead of focusing on a single task or activity at any one time, students and young people tend to multitask intensely, which can make whatever they produce decline in quality severely and tasks can take a great deal more time. So arguably, the internet can have an absolutely devastating effect on the academic achievements of students. Social Networking sites are also highly addictive, meaning young people aren’t always able to focus on their studies as they should be and they can cause physical, mental and emotional exhaustion.
Social Media has also become a breeding ground for cyber bullying which can have horrendously negative repercussions on those affected. Yet it does provide us with the ability to connect with individuals around the world, fulfilling its positive purpose of making easier, although it can easily become a distraction as 38% of the students can’t live for 10 minutes without using an electronic gadget.
In fact, a recent article from the Independent stated that children are arriving at school suffering tablet addiction because they spend the twilight hours playing computer games rather than sleeping. This makes them irritable and too tired to learn according to according to Mary Bousted, the General Secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers.
Yet technology is viewed by some as a replacement to teachers seeing as a typical American High School student has access to a teacher 40 minutes per day- just 5% of the teacher’s day. A laptop for instance, has has access to the teacher’s course material and the internet almost anywhere, meaning that technology allows learning anywhere, anytime; not just in the classroom during timetabled lesson times. Technology can also provide pupils with an in depth of understanding of what they learn in the classroom and interactive simulations and illustrations can produce a much greater depth of understanding of a concept.
A vital skill in the new digital world is the ability to work collaboratively on projects with others who may not be physically close- i.e. with group projects etc. The World Wide Web also prevents pupils from lugging around tonnes of textbooks and exercise books and can help prevent deforestation and back injuries because the average laptop weighs about 5lb and provides access to infinitely more material via its own storage. Moreover, the internet and a 40Gb hard drive can hold 2 million pages with illustrations; the web is unfathomably large. In the long run, computers and the net are also saving us money!
Technology also provides more efficient assessment systems that allow examiners to look beyond test scores and create in-depth analysis of data which can give teachers a much richer picture of how students understand what they are being taught.
There are oodles of benefits that technology has provided our students and teachers with, consequentially making them better learners and educators. The trouble is many of these amazing advancements come hand in hand with negative effects or consequences and therefore, the use of technology in the classroom is dependent on p whether the teacher truly believes the positives of the internet, smart boards and other technological goodies outweigh their darker effects on our students.