Modern technology is paving the way for education, but people do not know if the route it is creating will be beneficial or disadvantageous towards students’ learning. Technology is making its way into learning more and more each day. In the past century classrooms have adapted by switching from simple teaching aids, such as chalkboards, to magnificent projectors connected to elaborate computers which allow students to visualize their learning in depth. Education is developing constantly therefore a society that relies heavily on technology will adapt with it. The effects of technology on education can be investigated by acknowledging the concerns that educators have with technology affecting students’ understanding, factors that may distract from learning, and opportunities that it offers to students and education.
With new advancements in educational technology comes the concern that students are not learning at full capacity. In “How Computers Change the Way We Think,” Sherry Turkle explains that humans are becoming more dependent upon computers. She goes on to say that computers are overtaking teachers in a sense by offering a broad realm of educational instruction, and she explains that computers are revealed to students at a very young age through email, word Processing, and a variety of other technologies (310). One main concern with the exposure of technologies to students is that they may not be reaching their full potential. Educational technology is very new to teachers and students which makes it hard for them to fully understand how it affects one’s learning. Turkle says, “At a lunch for new faculty members, several senior professors in engineering complained that the transition from slide rules to calculators had affected their students’ ability to deal with issues of scale” (309). The students that use calculators ultimately stop using the basic methods required without the calculator. They forget the step of placing a decimal in the number. The students have not had experience with doing the calculation manually which results in errors. The dawn of calculators exemplifies a basic example of concern with technology’s influence on education in this brief lunch meeting. This is a simple example with a calculator in a math class, but imagine how this example could be substituted with more complex learning tools like PowerPoint or word processing software.
The advancement of technology is not only affecting students within a classroom but also outside of school. Turkle refers to a man by the name of Erick Erickson within “How Computers Change the Way We Think. She talks about his explanation of the necessity for students to take a break out of their daily lives in order to promote good growth mentally and physically as young adults. In a world that brings daunting tasks, hardships, and suffering it is beneficial to escape reality briefly through videogames or social media. She mentions that Erickson goes on to say that although it is necessary to escape reality for a brief amount of time there can be too much time spent in a virtual world which might result in the child lacking the ability to discover their own self (311). Excessive amounts of time spent with technology can be unhealthy for children’s social skills.
The biggest factor in determining if technology helps or harms students’ learning is whether or not it allows students to maximize their learning. Computers and learning software are very recent tools which makes educators question the benefits that are offered by these technologies. Critical thinking and understanding in students could be at risk which can be detrimental to their education. The point of educating someone is to prepare them fully for the topic or area in which they are being educated. The concern is that technology may be disrupting learning. For example, technology is introduced to children at a young age which presents the idea that they may come to rely on it versus thinking critically or using their own skills more frequently.
Educational advancement for students is the goal for schools. What would schools be like with a less technologically centered system? Technology has become central part of modern education. It is hard to imagine daily life without it. The comfortable reliability that students have with technology might not be as profitable towards understanding material as one might believe. In “How Computers Change the Way We Think,” Turkle discusses an essay “The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint” written by Edward R. Tufte. According to Tufte, PowerPoint allows students to give well laid out thoughts, but it does not point them in the direction of having conversation or interacting with one another. Skilled teachers can create wonderful presentations, but younger students may become distracted from actually leaning the material when there are colorful images or noises within the presentation (312). Along with PowerPoint Turkle expresses concerns with word processing software. She goes on to say that it can be helpful in the sense that young writers can easily interchange paragraphs, or alter the structure of the composition, but it also allows inexperienced writers to subconsciously type words quickly. This can be a big issue because writers that are not very disciplined might become even less disciplined due to the fact that they are not thinking when they type (313). This can be tied together with Turkle’s analysis of Erick Erickson’s statement that too much time spent in a virtual world can prevent someone from being who they truly are. Writing can be a very expressive subject and word processing might draw students away from thinking or expressing their thoughts (311). Writes use critical thinking often when they are debating word choice, sentence structure, or the way in which they organize their paragraphs.
Being able to critically think is a necessity to have in school. Technology has a way of simplifying material which might draw students away from this ability. In “Learning to Read and Write,” Frederick Douglass has to learn using a more cognitive style. Douglass shares his experience as a child when he would bring bread to the little white children in exchange for them teaching him to read (50). He knows that he has to find another route in order to become educated. Douglass says, “The plan I adopted, and the one by which I was most successful, was that of making friends of all the little white boys whom I met in the street. As many of these as I could, I turned into teachers” (50). This sheds light on the fact that he has to think critically in order to learn how to read and write. Douglass lives during a time period where there are no computers to aid in the process of learning, and he has to figure things out by interacting with others and thinking critically. In today’s society, instruction and answers can be found easily with the swift movement of a few keys on a keyboard.
Technology has the downside in some areas of eliminating the process of thinking. Using calculators on a math problem can exclude the learning of those steps. Word processing software allow students to quickly create a document without putting thought into it. It is examples like these that reveal the possible lack of benefit. Perhaps the elimination of technology to some extent would benefit students by encouraging them to use their brains and think critically. It might be that a combination of both would prove to be the best option.
The effects of a technologically centered education system and its underlying factors towards students might not be completely understood, but the overall possibilities that are being offered to students are amazing. Daniel Scoggin and Tom Vander Ark discuss the benefits of technology in “Should We Limit ‘Screen Time’ in School?” by shedding light on a few points that are eye opening. They talk about five advantages which include worldwide connectivity, intimate computing, experimental computing, tech-facilitated personalized learning, and competency and credentials. Scoggin and Vander Ark talk about the power that students possess with a computer or phone by being able to simply access the internet. They go on to discuss how students will be helped by computers being companions which can respond to emails, or remind them of due dates. Scoggin and Vander Ark discuss the probability of virtual reality in education allowing students to have access to simulated experiments. For example, a child can put on a headset to conduct an experiment on ecosystems in rainforests and the student would sense they are standing in a tropical rainforest while learning about all of the characteristics within the ecosystem. Finally, they discuss the topics of tech-facilitated learning and competency and credentials. Scoggin and Vander Ark tell about the idea of education being adapted to the learner’s ability by allowing the student to move ahead in a subject when they are prepared. They discuss a similarly constructed idea of using micro credentials to base a student’s capability versus the name of a university or subject on a diploma (“Should We Limit Screen Time in Schools?”). Technology is being focused on substantially when looking towards the future for the betterment of education.
In “Introduction to What is the Role of Technology in Education: At Issue,” the article discusses how technology positively affects education. The article describes the impact these courses have by saying that “The explosion of online course options is another example of a true game-changing leap forward in education (“Introduction to What is the Role of Technology in Education: At Issue”). The article not only proclaims that online courses are the pioneers of modern education, but it praises academic tutorial videos. It discusses Khan Academy which is a website dedicated to students who seek to further their knowledge in any subject. One of the biggest factors for this being special is that it cost absolutely nothing. Students can simply search a subject and learn about it in detail (“Introduction to What is the Role of Technology in Education: At Issue”). The ability to connect with others through a technologically centered education can be very empowering for a group of learners.
The idea that learning is more accessible can expand the value people have education. Education has not always been accessible for people in the past. For example, in “Learning to Read and Write,” Frederick Douglass has to find ways to educate himself. Douglass knows that there is a value that society places on education because he sees people involved with it everywhere he goes. He knows that white people around him are being educated and he wants to be a part of it. Douglass discusses his desire to learn and where it began. To paraphrase Douglass, he shows where his desire to learn begins with his completion of memorizing the letters of the English language. After completing this he knows no obstacle or intervention can withhold him from proceeding in his learning (50). This drives him to learn how to read and write through a long rigorous process by using the boys to tutor him by offering them bread or challenging them on their knowledge of letters. (49-53). If education is more accessible, more people can learn a skill or acquire a degree which is empowering.
The advantages for learning that a technologically based education offers are vast. Students can experience learning in a variety of ways which can make education more exciting, enjoyable, accessible, and affordable. Technology allows learners to connect with educators outside of the classroom, whether it be through taking an online course or simply searching a tutorial video on a particular subject that they are having trouble with. The benefits of technology in education are impossible to overlook. Students can learn in ways that have never been imagined which allows for a versatile experience inside and out of the classroom.
In conclusion, modern education relies greatly on technology which can have both a negative and a positive impact. There is an evident concern that technology can allow students to overlook details. Students must learn to think critically through problem solving or by analyzing what they are doing. At times it might be restricting students from reaching their maximized ability to learn and understand course materials. To be beneficial technology is used in education. Technology helps empower people through connection. It allows instructors and learners to connect in and out of class in ways that have never been imagined. Technology has both restraining and beneficial factors.
- Douglass, Frederick. “Learning to Read and Write.” Wake Tech English 111 Reader, edited by Wayde Vickrey, 2nd ed. MacMillan, 2017, pp 49-54.
- ‘Introduction to What Is the Role of Technology in Education?: At Issue.’ What Is the Role of Technology in Education?, edited by Judeen Bartos, Greenhaven Press, 2013. At Issue. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/EJ3010836101/OVIC?u=nclivewtcc&sid=OVIC&xid=0ddcaba8. Accessed 7 Nov. 2018.
- Scoggin, Daniel, and Tom Vander Ark. ‘Should We Limit ‘Screen Time’ in School?’ Education Next, vol. 18, no. 1, 2018, p. 54+. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A520581892/OVIC?u=nclivewtcc&sid=OVIC&xid=3bdb90c9. Accessed 6 Nov. 2018.
- Turkle, Sherry. “How Computers Change the Way We Think.” Vickrey, pp. 275-280.