Pros and Cons of Technology in the Classroom

Jul 4, 2018 by

Technology has quite literally changed the world as we know it. Things are no longer done the way they used to be. And this holds true for nearly all aspects of life. Technology, for all intents and purposes, has made life a lot easier than it once was. People do everything online from shopping to banking and communicating. The classroom is nearly unrecognizable from years ago. Chalkboards have been replaced with whiteboards and spiral notebooks with digital ones. You’d be hard pressed to find a classroom without a computer or tablet for every student. But are all these advances in technology positive? Or are they hindering our youth in some way? And what does it mean for the future of our students? The job market has also changed drastically based on the introduction of technology. Check out five ways technology has transformed the educational process and you decide if the changes are positive or negative.

Participation

Technology can both increase and decrease student participation rates. On the pro side of things, online courses, discussion boards, and virtual classrooms boost student participation immensely. These features offer different avenues for students to interact with one another. Teachers encourage students to post on a variety of pages and then require classmates to comment on each other’s work. This opens doors to healthy debates, discussions, and communication. Virtual interaction is also beneficial to those who prefer not to participate in class or have a fear of speaking in front of others. For those students, it’s much easier for them to type a response rather than raise their hand in class. On the flipside, the ability to hide behind a screen or keyboard inhibits students from strengthening their public speaking skills and pushing past their fear of judgment from others. Some may argue that strictly commenting on a classmate’s post or sending an email doesn’t cut it as classroom participation.

Communication

Communication goes hand-in-hand with participation in the classroom. Regardless of your career choice or educational path, a student needs to be able to communicate face-to-face. This is true for educational purposes, as well as interviews and well into an individual’s career. When students aren’t required to communicate with one another in the classroom and rely solely on chatting, messaging or commenting, they’re losing some of their interpersonal communication skills, which are imperative to survive in the real world. But there are also some positives to communicating via the internet and technology. This is especially true for those individuals taking online courses. Professors are often more readily available via email versus scheduling a meeting in their office. Most people access their email on their smartphones. A student can shoot a quick question or clarification to their teacher via email and receive a response almost immediately. This can’t always be said for in person encounters. Technology has also enabled students to communicate with other students from around the world, whether it’s via Facetime, Skype or other video and messaging tools. Communication has expanded far beyond the four walls of the classroom and in many ways, this is a positive element of technology.

Resources

Kindles and tablets have virtually eliminated the need for buying actual textbooks. But if you’re one of those people who enjoys a tangible book in your hand – the feel and smell of the pages, the weight of the cover, and the ability to physically highlight your notes and earmark sections, then you likely miss the days of covering your textbooks in brown paper bags from the grocery store. Now, most everything can be downloaded from Amazon or Barnes and Noble as an e-book. This is convenient in terms of not carrying around cumbersome books and the ability to access the materials from almost anywhere with an internet connection. And let’s be honest, there will always be the need for libraries, databases, and other tangible resources that can’t be found online. Much of history is based on classic novels and life-changing documents. But Webster’s dictionary has been replaced with the urban dictionary and billions of people around the world are “Googling” answers to life’s greatest questions. The information available on the internet is truly unmatched by what’s found on the shelves at a library. But for some, the nostalgia cannot be replaced.

Opportunities and Life Skills

Technology has opened up the door to so many amazing opportunities in the classroom. Both for teachers and students. Thousands of people watched live as giraffe, April, gave birth to her baby. Students are learning to read using educational apps on their personal ipads and connect with other students from across the globe. The opportunities for growth and advancement due to technology are undeniable. Not to mention that understanding how technology works has now become a life skill. Most five year olds can navigate their parent’s smartphones and tablets better than an adult. And although this is a startling fact, it’s almost a necessary evil. The world is run by technology. Students need to understand how computers, tablets, and the internet works if they plan to be successful in life. And this is true for any career they choose. Nurses and doctors input patient’s information into computer databases and use tablets to track patient registration. Most online careers require a basic understanding of SEO and online marketing strategies. Police officers no longer hand write tickets but instead use a digital ticket generator. You can’t get away from technology. It’s in every aspect of every career, which means that the earlier students are introduced to it, the deeper understanding they’ll have and the better their chances for success.

Speed

Who doesn’t like instant gratification? Whether you’re a student or a teacher, young or old, we all want what we want and if we can get it sooner rather than later, we’ll take it! Information is virtually at our fingertips when it comes to searching the internet. Amazon Prime has items being shipped to your doorstep in under two days. Test scores are calculated effortlessly and efficiently without teachers having to whip out their trusty red pens. The days of scantron testing are nearly gone. But is all this speed a good thing? Technology has created a sense of immediacy and urgency amongst youth. These feelings can quickly transform into ones of entitlement and impatience. Students are accustomed to getting instant results. The problem is, life isn’t always made up of instant gratification. Did your mother ever tell you that anything worth having is worth waiting for? Some things take time. You need patience, humility, and self-control in life. But technology delivers us internet query results before we even finish typing our question and updates in a matter of seconds. Fast results are great and make the entire teaching process easier for both students and teachers. But in life, things aren’t always fast. Is technology killing a student’s ability to be patient?

Understanding the Pros and Cons of Technology for Students

Knowledge is power. Technology is an amazing resource and one that isn’t going anywhere. Students need to understand how to use it in order to succeed in the classroom and beyond. But it’s also important to foster other life skills that can’t be taught on a screen or keyboard. Like interpersonal communication, patience, and confidence. By including a healthy balance of these elements in your classroom, you’ll be equipping students will all the tools they need to succeed.

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