“Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is most important.” -Bill Gates. There’s no doubt that technology has changed the world around us. From self ordering kiosks at restaurants to computer driven vehicles, technology is reshaping how we go about our day-to-day lives. One of the areas that is under constant change is education. Implementing more and more tech in the classroom seems to be the big focus for districts across the nation, and world alike. With the changing times and more tech based jobs, this idea isn’t half that bad. However, what do these changes look like for the students and teachers in these modern classrooms? In this essay we will look at both the positive and negative sides of implementing technology in the classroom, as well as how these changes are being made, and what this looks like for teachers and their students.
Today’s schools have been influenced by technology significantly. In fact, if you walked into a classroom today it would look a lot different than it did just a few years ago. Technology has played, perhaps, the largest role in this. In How Technology has Changed Education the article states, “the internet dominates many aspects of our life. We’re so used to it that we don’t even think about all the areas it touches” (Vista College 2019). One of these areas we don’t often think about is education. This article explores different ways that technology has impacted education. For example, it creates greater accessibility. Students that can’t attend school, for whatever reason may be, can now have access to an online education. This means people can now seek degrees from their own home. This leads to the idea of increased flexibility. As long as you have assignments done by a certain time this allows students to use the rest of their time as needed without being stuck at school.
The relationship between teachers and students has undergone a shift. Students can now freely email teachers and ask questions even after school hours. However, it’s been debated whether this is positive or a negative. Considering that with online chatting you miss the face to face interaction and “real life verbal cues.” Another factor is how online testing is now in use. Arguably this is a pro because there’s no biased grading. A con could be short answer questions can be complicated for computers to grade. Also math tests can be awkward for students to have to copy and show work for problems. Additionally technology has created an improved ability to meet special needs. In the past school has been such a rigid structure. In How Technology has Changed Education it states, “Technology improves a school’s abilities to meet the needs of all types of students. Now, students with hearing, speaking or seeing impairments, or those who are largely housebound, can still receive a quality education” (Vista College 2019). Creating a more equal learning opportunity for everyone. Also implementing technology in school is preparing the students for a technology based world. Whenever it’s used in the classroom the goal is to shift the classroom dynamic to create a flexible learning composition. We have seen why this shift has made a beneficial impact on schooling, but there’s also a “darker side” to consider.
One of the negatives of technology is it’s ever changing nature. Many districts want to provide their students with their own electronics to work on. However, in most cases this is just not in budget. With technology constantly improving and changing, by the time some schools do get the chance to provide students with electronics, their districts will start switching to something different and more relevant. Furthermore, in The Dark Side of Technological Education it states, “We need to be careful to introduce technology in thoughtful ways or else we will be left with another generation of teachers who see technology as nothing but overpriced distractions rather than useful teaching tools” (Lynch 2020). This statement reflects that in theory, technology can be useful but that’s only when it’s utilized in the right way. More often than not, kids already have electronics at home where they’re used to chatting with friends or playing video games. When the child is equipped with one at school, there is an initial struggle to keep them from opening their favorite game versus the history app. Another aspect is once technology is used in the classroom, it’s expected to be used at home. Since technology has spread globally and is easy to access for many families, this access is expected for the whole class. Yet, there are some kids who don’t have these privileges, which automatically puts them at a disadvantage from their peers. And not only is limited access and constant upgrading a problem, but a majority of students do not comprehend information as well when using the computer.
English and mathematics are considered to be core classes that many students struggle with. When adding in the tech factor, such as online lesson plans or online books, students have a harder time understanding the information at hand. In most cases, students do not do as well with online curriculum as they would with hardcopy. Khadija Alhumaid states, “handwriting and reading are impaired by typing and… Information Technology (IT) brings about shallow processing of information. That is why, students do not learn a lot from Google Books in the same fashion they do from printed books and magazines.” (Alhumaid 4). Alhumaid also says that, “students who read linear texts have better understanding and a stronger memory than those who read via the Internet.” As you can see online learning, although being pushed, is not always beneficial to the students who are trying to learn these subjects for the first time. As far as mathematics goes, Professor Tingyao Zheng writes, “Because calculators are generally numerical in nature, students may not acquire solid conceptual understanding. Their view of mathematics will probably be more procedural and accordingly, their problem-solving skills may be limited.” (Zheng 9). The point of each subject listed above is being severely hindered by technology. This in turn is causing students to have an even more difficult time processing and fully understanding them.
Teacher training also needs to be considered. For a lot of teachers this change can be overwhelming. Whenever technology is brought into the classroom it is expected to be used. Teachers cannot be expected to come with knowledge on how to use these tools right away. Therefore, training for these teachers is a necessary factor. If you have a teacher without knowledge on how to use the technology it’s a useless tool in the classroom. However, for these teachers to be trained this involves time and money. Essentially this creates conservicial conversation of whether or not pros outweigh the cons. Either way technology is taking over the school system. This is affecting the way teachers plan their lesson, communicate with students, and provide adequate knowledge. It will change the whole dynamic of a student’s “typical” school day.