Technology can be a helpful tool to increase learning in many areas, as it allows students to receive easy and instant access to information. However, there are also negative aspects that can counteract learning.
A common concern about having technology in the classroom is how much potential there is for distraction. If a student is working on a device like an iPad, the distractions are literally at their fingertips. In just a click of a button and tap on the screen, the temptations of playing games, texting or checking social media present themselves.
In class, it is harder for students to get away with using their technology for things other than school, but outside of the classroom the choice is up to them. It is their responsibility whether they dedicate time on their device to their schoolwork.
Susan Pinker, in an op-ed for the New York Times, said that without adult supervision “many kids used their networked devices not for schoolwork, but to play games, troll social media and download entertainment.”
Not only can technology become a distraction for students, but it can also have an effect on test scores. Jacob Vigdor, an economist from Duke University tracked the academic progress of many middle-school students based on their exposure to computers. He found that “students who gain access to a home computer between the 5th and 8th grades tend to witness a persistent decline in reading and math scores.”
According to a survey found by the Pew Research Center, nearly 90 percent of teachers feel as though technology is creating a distracted generation with short attention spans. Around 50 percent of students also feel like technology is hurting their ability to think critically and do their homework.
Although technology is proving to have negative effects on certain aspects of learning, there are many beneficial aspects that enhance and develop learning.
A huge benefit of having technology in a classroom is the exposure to a vast amount of information. This allows students to be able to do research on specific topics that interest them without having to dig through books in the library.
It is also time efficient to have information at the tips of your fingers, since information online is easier to access than books. This efficiency allows students to increase productivity and achieve more during class.
Freshman computer science major and entrepreneurship minor Sarahi Zuniga deems that technology has allowed us access to exponential amounts of knowledge in substantially very short periods of time. For students, she said the use of technology in the classroom provides efficiency because “if you have a question, regarding anything, you can hop on any computer or smartphone and google it.” No longer are the days of scrambling through a book to find one simple answer that could be searched online within seconds.
Another benefit of technology in the classroom is the ability to have online discussions. An article on the impact of technology on modern education said that through the use of technology, students can communicate online with other students and teachers at any place and time. The interaction of “listening to and reading about others’ opinions and feedback, students refine their thinking, reaching higher levels of comprehension and deeper understanding.”
Jessa Moomaw, a freshman triple major in economics, finance and honors humanities acknowledged that the biggest positive aspect of technology on her learning besides the efficiency, is the facilitation of collaboration. By using technology she expressed that she is able to collaborate with her peers on group projects even if they aren’t all in the same physical location as well as share her work with others that they can edit and respond to online.
“Collaboration is such an important part of my learning and technology makes it a great deal easier,” Moomaw said.
Although there are concerns about technology negatively impacting student learning, the positive aspects seem to outweigh them.
The use of technology in the classroom only prepares students for the future, as technology is continuing to become a large aspect of any workplace and how our society functions in general.
Technology is merged into practically every job on the market. Whether it is communicating through instant messaging or a skype call or programming a website for a business, technology plays a role into our work.
Technology is slowly becoming more and more of a crucial part of our lives and merging itself into everything we do. It should not come as a surprise when technology becomes an ever bigger part of student learning than it already is.