As technology continues to prosper it has become essential in the development of curriculums and school buildings throughout the United States. For those children who had access to the Internet in 2015, the two locations with the highest reported levels of internet access were at home (86 percent) and at school (65 percent), and the two most common means of internet access at home were a high-speed internet service and a mobile internet service or data plan. In 2015, about 88 percent of 8th-graders and 83 percent of 4th-graders reported that they used a computer at home, and 80 percent of 8th-graders reported using a computer for schoolwork on a weekday. The percentages of students who were using a computer at home and using a computer for schoolwork varied by student and family characteristics. ( U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2018). Student Access to Digital Learning Resources Outside of the Classroom (NCES 2017-098), Executive Summary. )
In a lot of classrooms, textbooks are being replaced with online access; notebooks are being replaced with chrome books and tablets. The impact of technology has become very significant on our children inside and outside of the classroom but the question always arises whether it is helping or hurting education. While most students are able to navigate seamlessly through a computer or tablet, they struggle with basic handwriting and social skills. Cell phones, video games, and social media have taken over some students’ lives and the drive to complete classwork and participate in activity classes, such as PE, is few and far between. Instead of reading to gain knowledge or find an answer students are reliant on Google and do not comprehend what they are typing or copying and pasting.
In an era where the Internet is available to almost every student in the United States, it is easy to go online to download pictures and videos. There are even subscription sites that allow students to purchase papers and assignments and unfortunately, students submit these assignments as their own. Many students are unaware that copying and pasting is plagiarism because some online information lacks origin. Plagiarism is a big ethical worry when it comes to assignments for students, especially with search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing that make it easy to find any information on various subjects. The extensive accessibility of information also makes it easier for students to make up research and sources in which they located the information. Teachers now have to explicitly teach students how to cite authors when using the Internet, and the importance of respecting the works of others as they would their own property, in order to lessen the instances of plagiarism. Teachers also should require students to use information from credible sources and not the likes of sites that are editable. As long as students have been given homework assignments and tests, there have been cheaters. Academic cheating is nothing new in society; even before technology students used different routes to cheating. The manner in which cheating has been done has changed over time, though, with the inclusion of technology and the world wide web it has become easier to do and harder to track. It has become so common that some students do not realize or understand that they are actually cheating. In classrooms in this day and time, students who cheat are seldom caught. Unlike when most people my age and older were in school there are no answers written on hands or students eyeballing each other across the classroom, or using hand signals to give answers to their friends. Today’s students have access to iPhones, iPads or even computers to assist with their cheating efforts with no trace of their acts. Since using technology is encouraged, most students do not view their actions unethical or inappropriate. Most of the strategies that are mentioned were not accessible in years past. The technology is being developed and made available so quickly that school districts cannot sufficiently update their cheating policies, or even awareness campaigns to teach students how to use technology to find answers in the proper manner. Districts must come up with anti-cheating policies that include the use of technology, and those policies must be an open document that can be updated when needed. Teachers must stay attentive when it comes to what their students are doing in classrooms and how technology could be playing a harmful role in the education development. Parents must also talk to their kids about the proper ways to locate answers and educate them about unethical behaviors that may seem harmless in their eyes.
Social Networks contain a laundry list of ethical issues for teachers who decide that it is okay to become friends with their students. Meanwhile it may be helpful for teachers to learn about their students outside of class or monitor social activities that students may be engaged in. Unfortunately many students do not understand that they have relinquished their right to privacy by posting things on social media, and they often feel that these platforms are anonymous because there is no face-to-face interaction. According to their company information page, Facebook has 2.27 billion active users, and 1.49 billion of these users log on every day.(Company Info. (n.d.). Retrieved November 29, 2018, from https://newsroom.fb.com/company-info/ )
Some educators are using Facebook to share multimedia with students, or as a way for students to connect and collectively brainstorm. Each school in my district has a Facebook page, and while the intentions of connecting students through the page were positive, they provided no guidelines for the page’s use; therefore, it inevitably could lead to ethical issues. Social media can be a teaching moment to help students understand that this outlet is not a diary and it is not anonymous. Studies show “Pupils who are particularly active on social media do not spend less time studying. So there is no scientifically verified proof of social media stealing valuable time for schoolwork from pupils.” (Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg, JMU. (2018, February 19). Is social media to blame for poor grades?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 29, 2018 from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/02/180219103217.htm )
Our actions and posts on public social networks could one day prevent us from getting a job, or they could cause us to become unemployed. The more time our children spend on social sites, the less time they spend interacting with their peers in person. Social networking sites are not a sufficient substitute for face-to-face communication that leads to students’ struggles socially in the classroom. Students who spend a great deal of time on social networking are less able to effectively communicate with teachers, peers and other staff in the building.
Technology is very interactive and students can learn by researching and receiving feedback electronically. Students can develop a passion about what they are learning and really gain hands on learning by utilizing such websites as YouTube for visual instructions and examples. One drawback of YouTube is the growing number of incorrectly labeled videos that students may stumble upon that are not appropriate for their viewing.
Regardless if it is positive or negative, technology is not just about thrilling innovative devices and applications. Each new expansion leads to new proficiencies and unchartered experiences. More often than not the effects of using these technologies will be unpredicted in both good and bad ways. As a teacher, we need to be forward-thinkers and adapt to anything that comes our way. We must also be original in how we use classroom technologies to become improved teachers and ponder ways to minimize undesirable results.