Technologies' Impact on Students

In America and throughout the world, there has been a fundamental shift in the use of technology in learning and in schools In traditional classrooms students have lectures with a professor face to face and engage in non-technology based learning, whereas, in a more modern class room many different forms of technology are incorporated into learning - Technologies' Impact on Students introduction. There are benefits to the reliance on technology, as well as potential pitfalls. There are many positive educational aspects directly tied to the addition of technology in schools.

For example, personal devices that allow students access to a wider range of knowledge throughout the world and increased connectivity to educational resources are just two of the many potential educational aids that will be discussed in this paper. As students and teachers in the scholastic world enter this new age of technology, concerns have arisen about some potential problems. Some technologies such as cell phones, laptops, and personal computers may bring about certain types of harm.

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Students can now find almost any obscure bit of information or data, and some of this information may not be wholesome or age appropriate. Plagiarism and the dramatic increase of cyber-bullying also cause concerns over the safety of the Internet. In this paper the potential pros and cons will be discussed and examined. Over the last decade, cell phones have become steadily more prevalent as the communication device of choice instead of land line telephones, according to the United Nations telecom agency “there were about 6 billion subscriptions by the end of 2011 – roughly one for 86 of every 100 people. (Goldberg) Technology in cell phones have shown amazing growth over the past years, resulting in such added new features as, texting, email, video and picture messaging, cameras, and access to Internet. These new features add a new level of difficulty for teachers, not only to reach a student, but also to keep their student safe. Almost a million camera phones were sold last year, and in many places such phones are already accepted as the norm.

In class, cell phones with cameras can be tools for scientific data collection, documentation, and visual journalism, allowing students to gather evidence, collect and classify images, and follow progressions over time. Creative cell phone photos can inspire students’ creative writing via caption or story contests. Phones can be placed in various appropriate places and operated remotely, allowing observations that would be impossible in person. Students can literally see what’s going on around the world, including sister classrooms in other countries which would help students achieve a better understanding of the world.

These tools now have an instant impact on students. For instance instead of bringing a digital voice recorder students can now record lectures on phones allowing them to bring up professors key points at just a touch of a button. Proponents of student cell phone use point to the many benefits of cell phones. Cell phones are useful to both parents and students when scheduling after-school activities and changes in family plans (such as afternoon pick-up times). Another reason cell phones are valuable for students is because internet browsers are now being built in to a number of phones.

Web sites specifically designed for cell phones are becoming more and more numerous allowing students access to a host of different information. A browser in the cell phone puts a dictionary, thesaurus, and encyclopedia instantly onto the hands of every student. It gives them instant access to Google and other text search engines, turning their cell phones into powerful research tools. Detractors say that drawbacks to student cell phones outweigh the benefits. The primary concern is that cell phones distract students.

Even though most schools require that phones be turned off during school hours, such a rule is difficult to enforce; for instance, students who leave class for a bathroom break could use the phone while out of the room. Cell phones are now so small that students can use them surreptitiously in class as well, particularly text messaging and video games. Should a phone ring in class, the entire classroom is disrupted, and teachers report that many students will answer the call. Cheating and inappropriate photos are also concerns associated with cell phones.

As cell phones become more sophisticated and powerful, opportunities for cheating increase. Teachers have caught high school students taking pictures of tests to pass along to students in later classes, for instance, or accessing photos of textbook pages or notes during tests. Inappropriate photos taken in locker rooms and restrooms have also become a problem in some schools, which carries the potential for lawsuits; many school systems have banned camera phones while still allowing traditional cell phones.

The rise and development of this bewildering number and variety of phones, Ipads, pictures-phones, and the like have gone far beyond the traditional telephones and cell phones. The items available to consumers now would have seemed fantastic and exotic beyond belief just a short number of years ago. In fact, the cell phones and other devices in common use today nearly have the capabilities and ranges envisioned in science-fiction television shows for decades. Another significant discussion in scholastic technology is “How does the Internet have an impact on a student? The question of whether enough online education is being conducted (even in face-to-face in the classroom) need to be examined. Modern children are considered “digital natives”- individuals who have never known anything but an electronically-based lifestyle. Many of these youth are being taught by “digital immigrants” (those who have grown up outside of the technological explosion). Teachers who are not “fluent” in technology may be doing their students a grave disservice. However, developing online learning could better prepare a student for an ever advancing age.

One such way many College and Universities have done is through the use of Blackboard. com. Blackboard is a tool that allows faculty to add resources for students to access online. PowerPoint, video, audio, animation, and other applications are added into Blackboard courses for students to enhance teaching and learning efforts. The use of Blackboard is an idea to help students supplement their knowledge from online, not just in a traditional classroom. There are many other websites that have the same goal as Blackboard, help students succeed over the Internet, websites such as; Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL), Math. om, innerbody. com, and many others. The benefit to this is that any student in any region can have easily accessible information at any time. Difficulties arise, however, when too much information is made available to students. Deanna Klein quotes a study by Donald Macabe in the article Why Learners Choose Plagiarism: A Review of Literature showing that for many students the wealth of information available online creates a serious plagiarism epidemic over 12,000 learners and 48 campuses.

As a result of these studies, McCabe reports one-third of the participating learners admitted to serious test cheating and half admitted to one or more instances of serious cheating on written assignments (Klein) There have been many technological advances is society but none so demonized as video games. There are advantages and disadvanges to having video games around students. A brief examination of the advantages includes some athletic directors such as University of Arizona’s director of football operations, Erick Harper has found that using football video games helps his players gain a greater understanding of the sport, “. . it puts guys in the thick of things, rather than watching film, The way they are technologically and what they do with video games, it’s right up their alley. It’s what they do daily, as it is. Roll it out, and they’re into it. ”(Jones) While teaching football player’s how to play the game through a game may not seem important it shows that even college students can learn from a game. Daniel Pink in the book A Whole New Mind quotes Professor James Paul Gee from the University of Wisconsin as saying, “. . . [Video games] build into their designs and encourage good principles of learning. . .

The fact is when kids play video games they can experience a much more powerful form of learning than when they’re in the classroom. ” (193) Pink also tells of Colonel Casey Wardynski, a West Point professor, who helped design the video game “America’s Army” for propaganda purposes trying to reach youth and get [youth] interested in the military at an early age so that they would be more likely to enlist later in life. (190) The use of video games in trying to influence teenage males may seem harmless, however, many believe that violence in video games can cause a disconnect from society, and this can have disastrous results.

The Columbine (Colorado) High School massacre on April 20, 1999, is probably the best-known violent case in which excessive use of video games and bullying was reputed to be an underlying cause of the brutal murders of twelve students, one teacher and injured twenty-one other students. (Columbine) Two senior students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, went on a violent shooting spree and had the cafeteria and other buildings wired to explosives for far more devastation. However, after the shootings and arrival by local police, the two committed suicide.

Much of the post-massacre discussion involved the gun, video game, and bullying culture in many parts of the United States, but a significant discussion also centered on the nature of high school subcultures (goths, guns, and drug users), cliques (jocks versus nerds), bullying, and the influences of violent movies and video games in our society. The shooting also resulted in a renewed emphasis on school security, an examination of the use of pharmaceutical anti-depressants by teenagers, teenage Internet use, violent video games, and cell phones place in school.

The link between bullying and school violence has attracted increasing attention since that attack. Both of the shooters were classified as gifted children and had reportedly been targets of bullying throughout their four-year high school careers. An analysis a year after Columbine, by officials at the US Secret Service, indicated that of thirty-seven premeditated school shootings had one thing in common, bullying. (“Columbine”) A similar theory was expounded by Brooks Brown in his book on the massacre, who noted that teachers commonly looked the other way when confronted with bullying.

The recent suicide of Amanda Todd is a case in which her suicide was widely reported and was attributed by many to be the result of cyber-bullying. The child of a broken home, Todd bounced from school to school as a result of her ever-changing living situation with her parents and with changing schools on a number of occasions, whether due to a move or due to problems with students. She posted a nude photo of her torso when a boy she liked urged her to pose naked. She later gave in to pressure to have sex with him because he threatened to post the nude photos on-line.

Some days later, she was awakened at 4:00 a. m. one morning by police officers knocking on her door. The photo had been posted on-line and appeared on several hundred web sites. Even though she left that school and went back to living with her other parent, the cyber-posting of the photo – and continued malicious treatment of students from that school — followed her. She became increasingly depressed, began abusing alcohol and drugs, and became increasingly despondent.

Todd was later put on antidepressant medications – most of which carry a risk of increased suicide among teens and young adults – her life continued a downward spiral. She increased her abuse of alcohol and drugs, as well as began cutting herself, then committed suicide a few weeks before her fifteenth birthday. Prior to her suicide, however, she posted on YouTube a flash card-style video – a style popular in rock videos on MTV and other youth-oriented networks – entitled “My Story: Struggling, Bullying, Suicide, and Self-Harm. Todd’s story is more atypical then other teenage suicides due to the nine minute long video she shot prior to her suicide that detailed her cyber-bullying experiences. Todd’s suicide is tragic, and one can readily see any number of points along her timeline where fortuitous intervention by a caring parent, a minister, a teacher or counselor, or even a trusted neighbor could have stopped the downward spiral and prevented the eventual and lamentable outcome. While many of these factors are present in nearly all teenage suicide cases, it is undeniable that new technology has served to exacerbate the problem.

In another case Erin Gallagher, a thirteen-year-old girl from Donegal, Ireland, was one of two teenaged girls in Ireland who committed suicide a few months ago after having been exposed to cyber-bullying on internet websites. The first site, Facebook, is a popular internet website with many millions of members. The second site, Ask. fm, is an internet-based social Q&A website. It was founded in Latvia and launched in June 2010 as a rival to Formspring, which it rapidly overtook in popularity in terms of worldwide traffic generated. Ask. m users invite questions from other members of the website. The responses can be received anonymously, a factor which undoubtedly serves as a surefire recipe for abuse and bullying. Gallagher’s parents knew that she was being bullied on-line and had contacted Donegal police early in October. Before any intervention measures could be undertaken, Erin committed suicide. As many see these startling reactions for people driven to the edge, some will just dismiss these as “extreme” reactions due to the visibili ty to the public eye.

However, in a recent study conducted by Dr. Susan Keith from the University of Rutgers and Professor Michelle E. Martin of Dominican University described: Fifty-seven percent of students said that someone had made inflammatory comments towards them with 13 percent saying that it happens quite often. Fifty-three percent of students admit to writing inflammatory or hurtful comments towards others online while seven percent admit to doing it quite often. Thirty-five percent have been threatened online and five percent saying it happens regularly. Additionally forty-two percent have been bullied online while seven percent say it appens quite often, and fifty-eight percent [of students surveyed] have not told an adult or parent. (224) This study has revealed that a majority of students have, at some time, been harassed or bullied at some point from an individual online. Showing that there is an inherent danger in online communication and that anonymity in an internet forum can allow students to harass others as well as be harassed themselves. Based upon the weight and evidence contained within this paper it is clear that the benefits in the use of technology far outweigh the disadvantages.

Although it is clear that there are significant concerns about cyber-bullying, plagiarism, and inappropriate subject matter being accessible to students that may not be emotionally able to handle such content, appropriate safeguards can be put into place to mitigate these disadvantages. On the whole, the prodigious advantages of growth in scientific knowledge, the ability to communicate with others around of the world almost instantaneously, and the ability to access information at the touch of a finger tip eclipses most of the potential harm that technology can transpire. Additional research is needed to determine long term effects of technology used both singularly and in conjunction with traditional methods of teaching.

Works Cited

“Columbine: Analysis And Lessons Learned. ” A Green Road. agreenroad. com n. d. Web. 15 Nov. 2012. Goldberg, Adam. “World Has About 6 Billion Cell Phone Subscribers, According To U. N. Telecom Agency Report. ” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost. com, 11 Oct. 2012. Web. 5 Nov. 2012. Jones, Gordie. Coaches using video games to teach. ” Espn. Espn. com 4 Sept. 2009. Web. 10 Nov. 2012 Keith, Susan, and Michelle E. Martin. “Cyber-Bullying: Creating a Culture of Respect in A Cyber World. ” Reclaiming Children and Youth 13. 3 (2004): 224-27. Web. 10 Nov. 2012. Klein, Deanna. “Why Learners Choose Plagiarism: A Review of Literature”Interdisciplinary Journal of E-Learning and Learning Objects 7 2011: 97. Print. Pink, Daniel H. A Whole New Mind. New York: Penguin Group, 2005. Print. 189, 193

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