Does Technology Have a Place in the Classroom?

Technology Budget

High schools and colleges often fight for the bragging rights of 1:1 computer to student ratios, large computer labs and technology-centered ‘pedagogy’. However, technology overuse is often the biggest detractor from valuable classroom time.

Sending students off to a website to do their own investigations may have no effect, especially when exposed to the distractions of the internet. Supervising students using the computer is even harder than without them: are they playing games, on Facebook or actually doing their work? The internet also allow plagiarism through website such as Yahoo! Answers, which allow users to ask questions and get responses from other users, fast; it is just two clicks away with copy and paste.

Typing also reduces the ability to write neatly, a skill highly valued in any workplace, as well as researching using sources other than the internet. The costs associated with up-keeping and purchasing new technology is also extremely expensive. A laptop from two years ago is often already outdated with faster models and newer software which requires licensing.

Instead of focusing on the newest technology, money should be spent on improving teacher to student ratios and exploring more engaging forms of learning for students.


3 thoughts on “Does Technology Have a Place in the Classroom?

  1. I use technology in my middle school science classroom and am working toward having a paperless classroom in the very near future. The advantages far outweigh the disadvantages, IF the technology is used correctly.

    I do not have a 1:1 scenario (man that would be nice, though), but I’ve found ways to introduce the PROPER use of the computer for researching, investigating and exploring the world without a lot of distraction from all that “stuff” out there.

    We use our computers to visit various science content websites for information, interactives and animations. We watch videos of labs we will be conducting. I have a class website that is my way of interacting with parents more by posting lessons and responding to comments and questions. I will expand that idea with a class management site in the fall that will provide one click access to all assignments, homework, discussions and assessments. Everyone will be able to see assessment results immediately after testing, which is a help to students in knowing where they need to focus their review and a great help to me as I reteach concepts. The gradebook will be available so parents can see how Johnny is doing weeks before the progress report comes out and Johnny can’t fabricate stories about non existent homework and projects. If Johnny is absent and has access to a computer with internet access, he will never fall behind again. I’ll make sure he has alternate assignments to complete.

    We’ll still write in our science notebooks; we’ll still read from textbooks and tradebooks and other science materials. We’ll still engage in inquiry and critical thinking about our world. We’ll still discuss topics of interest and explore current events as they pertain to our lessons. What will be different, however, is our focus on how we will use the computer and all other technology at our disposal in order to do this.

    This school year, as I have be experimenting with computer use in the classroom, I have had very little trouble with “wanderers” as they work independently at their terminals. When the lesson is structured and focused, students are more willing to do what they’re supposed to be doing while working with the technology.

    Its the 21st century, these are 21st century students, they should be taught how to use 21st century technology properly.

    1. I totally agree with C.S. Stone. I trialled one of my high school classes on our new Learning Management System (LMS) (Moodle), I found it efficient and so did the students. We were virtually paperless for the entire term. No problems with students misplacing work, handouts or resources. It’s on the LMS.

      Students can be distracted without computers. If you don’t engage them in the first place. Students want to be challenged, they want to be actively involved in class and if teachers don’t lead in this way, they will.

      I have been teaching for over 20 years and I find the use of technology in the classroom both exciting and a challenge.

    2. In my opinion, the way classrooms are structured the last century doesn’t really cut it anymore with increased high school drop out rates (for where I live) and poor grade scores around. It indicates the methods in teaching the new generation is outdated and require a rethink on how to educate kids.

      Of course there are some limitation to the technology such as the use of wi-fi in an elementary school However it does keep the subject matter more relevant and accessible in the class room. I’m saying computers may educate, but should not be too dependent on them. It’s a good tool; like a pen or an encyclopedia, thus it should be treated as such.

      Like in my senior years (I took my senior year 3 times because I flunked), I used both paper and pen as well as my desktop at home. Between both, I preferred the desktop for speed and reliability; however I didn’t really feel too inferior to the task (“I’m not going to finish this in time” or “this is too much for me to handle”). However some classes don’t necessarily need computer to teach. Creative course is more focus on self and imagination. These are more based on how well you can depict or extrapolate intangible concepts like emotions and thoughts. However for those that focus on facts and figures, a tablet or notebook PC can come in handy especially trying teach a lot about a subject.

      My old high school was electronically being renovated and my tech teachers were really great at teaching because we can see what they’re talking about in real time. Of course there was a chalk board, but it was used more to stage the class on the topic. I remember, she written on there the lesson plan for the day and it was all about HTML programming and the assignment for the class is to create a webpage. Throughout the time, students used the board to ask questions on how to put in frames and menus and so forth and all you saw was the lesson plant and a collage of ideas and how each person wanted to make their own webpage. At one point, she locked all our computers and we all had an output of her monitor to demonstrate how certain tag functions worked. It was an awesome class and I was pretty good at what I was doing because of how interactive it was.

      I agree with barenyn and C.S. Stone. Technology can be pivotal in how students now receive assignments and tasks. Great way to catch up and work on assignments and also to network group assignments.

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