A topic in the world of education that has been on the hot seat recently is the use of technology in the classroom. This topic hits very close to home for me, as my high school is considering partnering with Google, and providing a Chromebook for each student, and making each classroom a digital learning environment. Whether we like it or not, the world is beginning to become overrun with technology. Even the simplest things, like sinks and hand dryers in bathrooms are adapting to this growth in technology. In the classroom, technology can be used to eliminate the cost of textbooks when switching to all e-books; it can make sharing documents easier and increase collaboration among students through various engines like Google Drive and Dropbox; and can help acclimate the students of today with the technologies of tomorrow. However, despite the numerous advantages of increasing the use of technology in the classroom, I feel as though it is unnecessary, and detrimental to the learning experience.
Most of my opinion originates from my major. I am a Mathematics Major, and am seeking a PhD in Pure Mathematics. What that means, is that my job will consist of sitting in a room, and coming up with new mathematical theories from scratch. I am a theorist at heart, and I cringe whenever I need to “apply” mathematical principles to the real world. I am a huge opponent of the calculator, and I think it is making students taking math in today’s schooling system lazy, but I digress. Anyway, my interests and general opinions of the world lead me to believe that education should be about the fundamentals. I like to think of education as the construction of a very tall building. When looked at in this way, it is no question that a strong, reliable foundation is necessary to keep the building from falling over. So, how do we create these strong foundations? By doing things the good ‘ol fashioned way. That’s right, paper and pen, working out things by hand, and scribbling out notes and rough drafts until your hand cramps up. By doing these things, students gain an understanding of why things work, not just the fact that they do. They learn to appreciate the effort it takes to do a math problem, to write an essay, or to conduct research for a history paper.
So, how is technology hindering the education process? Julia Klaus’s article, “Negative Effects of Using Technology in the Classroom,” states that two of the biggest problems with technology in the classroom are that it is “overused, [and] takes away learning time.” She says that the time teachers need to take, both to acclimate themselves with the new technology in the room, as well as deal with technical difficulties that may arise, takes away valuable time that the students could be using to learn. She also states that most students retain information more successfully “… by physically and mentally interacting with what they are studying.” Teaching through a computer takes away from this, and the continued use of technology in the classroom distances the students from the material, making it harder for them to learn (Klaus). Another problem with technology in the classroom that is more prevalent on college campuses with larger lecture halls is what’s known as the “Halo Effect.” The Halo Effect details the fact that a laptop being used by someone is actually inadvertently distracting the students in the next few rows behind the user. So, by introducing laptops into the classroom, it not only presents the opportunity for the user to get distracted by social media sites or games, but also puts other students in danger of getting distracted by the bright computer screen.
So, overall, in the classroom, I feel that technology hurts the learning process. However, I will leave this post on a more positive note. I feel that technology has the potential to help students exponentially, outside of the classroom. With resources like internet databases, word processing and other various computer programs, collaboration engines like Google Drive and Dropbox, etc., students live in a world that harbors efficiency and a streamlined work process. What will make this technology even more effective, is if it is left out of the learning process itself, and is used to show understanding, rather than create it.