Technology has advanced a huge amount in the last few decades, and it's changed the face of learning as we know it. There's a huge debate over whether technology is a help or a hindrance in the classroom. Is it a distraction, or can it actually help? This essay will weigh both and decide whether technology really is a negative influence in the classroom.
The changes that technology has brought about
In the last decade or so, portable technology has exploded in popularity. The development of smartphones and apps means that we can access information like never before. Even very young children can now use sophisticated technology, meaning the way we learn has changed for good.
Technology has changed the way we live our lives, so we need to investigate how it's affecting education. Can teachers keep up with the changes, or does technology need to adapt itself to technology instead?
The negative influence of technology
There's plenty of reasons why teachers are wary of having technology used in their lessons. Here are just a few of them:
- Encouraging laziness in studying: There's no denying that search engines make everything easier. If you need the information, it's right there at your fingertips. However, the information that you find cannot be relied upon to be correct. Pupils are learning that they don't need to do proper, thorough research. Why would they, when all the answers are online?
- Distractions in the classroom: The ubiquitous nature of smartphones means that nearly every student has them in their pocket. If you're trying to teach, it's even more difficult now because students are constantly distracted by what's going on on their phones. How can students learn with their devices if they're constantly distracting them?
- Finding unsuitable material: If younger pupils are using technology in the classroom, there's the chance that they'll come across material that you really don't want them to be viewing and sharing. It is possible to control what devices can and cannot be used for, but it's always an ongoing battle.
- Online bullying: Bullying is a worldwide issue in schools, and the internet has offered new ways for bullies to harass their victims when they're away from the classroom. It can have a serious and lasting effect on students, and have serious implications for their education. In extreme cases, they can even withdraw from school as they can't cope with the bullying any more.
The positive influence of technology
It sounds like technology is a serious hindrance for the pupil and teacher alike. However, is it really all bad? There are some upsides to using it:
- Access to education for all: Not all students can access a classroom. If your students are struggling to come to school due to illness, disability, or location, then they can still learn via their devices. This means that they can learn at their own pace, and they never have to miss out on a day of school.
- Personalisation of education: Teachers face an uphill struggle when it comes to differentiating educational materials for their whole class. Technology makes the whole process a lot easier. All they have to do is upload different versions of the material, rather than having to make them manually. It's a huge time saver and stress saver for teachers.
- Encourages more interaction in class: Not every pupil is confident enough to speak up in class. Using technology means that students can get involved, even if they never raise their hands. A teacher can get a better idea of who has the answers, and can draw the students in more fully into the subject at hand.
- Easier assessment: Technology makes it a lot easier for teachers to see what students are understanding in their lessons, and what they need help with. There are lots of materials out there that help them assess their students individually, and so cater for their needs more fully.
Is technology a negative influence to education?
So, is technology really a negative influence when it comes to education? There's a certainly a lot of downsides to using it in the classroom. It's expensive, it's distracting, and it can be hard to control. However, with a good technology manager and some expertise, it really can make a difference to students' learning. The key is balance. Pupils don't need to spend all day looking at a screen, but some technology use can help them get the most out of their learning
What tech should be used in the classroom?
So, if technology is a must have in the classroom, what's the best tech to have?
One option for kitting out a classroom is to actually have your pupils do it for you. BYOD, or Bring Your Own Device, is a new movement that asks attendees to bring their own devices so they can access learning materials.
If there's budget for new devices though, an app enabled device could be the way forward. Educational apps are being developed all the time, and they can make a huge difference towards a pupil's engagement and learning.
So, we've seen that technology isn't as negative an influence on technology as we think it is. As with many things in life, the key is balance. If the devices are monitored closely, then teachers can use them to really make a difference to their pupils' learning.