Tech In Schools: Good Or Bad?
In 2015, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released a landmark report into how technology and its integration in the classroom has affected students. They studied schools around the world and found that many have adopted technology and made it part of their methodologies (72% of students in OECD countries use computers in school) but this may not be a good thing. Their research found that students who used computers moderately slightly outperformed students who rarely use them, and performed markedly better than students who frequently used them. These findings raise an interesting point since on a more broadly social level, technology is seen to be a good thing. It has certainly ingratiated itself into people’s personal lives. Data from the Pew Research Centre shows that 88% of Americans now use the internet and 77%, over three quarters, own a smartphone. As the cyber-world becomes an ever more important part of our real world, these figures are likely to continue rising.
This trend is one that is important to parents. For the young, successful professionals of Silicon Valley, tech is a way of life, but some have decided instead to send their children to a school where there is no tech to be found. One perhaps pernicious influence of modern gadgets is that they can sometimes detract from other ways of learning. Computers and tablets have made many tasks easier to complete and may make finding and sharing resources more efficient for both the student and teacher, but there are some things that this apparent panacea cannot do. For instance, drawing and painting are not superior on a computer because when a child is learning about art, they are doing so in lots of ways. It is not just about colour and shape, but about texture and the way natural light hits their paper or canvas. This cannot be replicated on a machine. Also, while it may be a rather easy argument to make since it is being made so much, a child will simply not learn the same things when using a computer than they will when playing outside. Climbing trees and discovering all sorts of bugs and plants is fun, particularly for younger children, and they learn so much from it at the same time (shocking research shows that three quarters of children in the UK now spend less time outside on average than prisoners). This is an aspect of their education that tablets are simply incapable of replicating.
Technology’s educational uses aside, it is exceptionally helpful on a logistical level. If you work at a small private school with single forms of no more than ten children, or you are a small part of a massive bureaucratic institution, keeping track of all your students’ needs can be difficult. Paper is good but in this case, technology is superior. Investing in the best school management software can help you ensure that you have everything in hand when it comes to things like organising school trips and getting consent forms back from parents.
The issue of tech in schools is like everything else in life: moderation is the best bet.