Teaching teachers new tricks while keeping the old

By Joey Sykes | Student Columnist

With the rise in technology in modern society, it is easy to see differences in the way we live life now compared to how we did a decade ago. This is especially true in the classroom, but sometimes this technology can hinder our students more than it can help.

New means of learning and teaching in the classroom due to a surge in technological advancements allow kids nowadays to experience elementary school and high school differently than how we college kids did only a few years ago. Access to information today is at an all-time high, mainly because most of it is through technology. When we are interested in finding out a question to something, we usually do a quick Google search. People in the past, and some today, don’t have access to that sort of important technological tool.

However, overuse of technology holds not only school children back but college students as well. This is due to the lack of problem solving and cognitive development.

According to UCLA Psychology Professor Patricia Greenfield, students who used a computer during a class lecture were less likely to do well on a test than students who didn’t have access to one. Students who had a computer were less likely to process information given by a teacher. The causes of students being educated without these skills in tow is because too many would rather enter a question into Google and have the search engine do their thinking for them than search for the answer themselves.

According to the Federal Communications Commission, 97 percent of schools today in America have Internet connectivity as of 2010. The Internet is just one of the hundreds of tools we can use to expand our knowledge. Having tools like the Internet is undoubtedly a good thing, but too much of anything can be harmful.

Something we need to ask ourselves is how much technology is just enough to make kids challenge themselves without allowing them to rely on it completely.

While the arguments offered in support of technology are well-standing, I believe the cons end up weighing out the pros here.

Looking at a school that doesn’t rely on technology, Waldorf School of the Peninsula, one can see that schools still choose to go without technology. The Waldorf School is a K-12 school based in Silicon Valley, which is a hub for technological development. What is interesting about the school is that it has the money to finance classroom technology but doesn’t allow computers in any of their classrooms. They even prefer students not to use them when they go home after school.

In a place like Silicon Valley, if schools are not integrating technology at all, than why would other schools begin to rely on it? This shows that students do not need high tech technology to learn.

The need for a traditional classroom setting is true for all students, but especially true with those students who have special needs. In a class that is specifically suited to aid special needs students, they are able to go at their own pace because teachers are specially prepared to help them out. Assistive technologies are available, though, so they aren’t all a bad idea for these students. iPads have been known to help children with social behavioral problems along with other problems too. Unfortunately, some schools can’t afford iPads or other types of technology.

One of the greatest concerns that should be acknowledgement when discussing classroom technology is cost.

Technology for school isn’t that different. The schools that can afford it buy it. A problem that arises from this situation is a clear one: The schools that cannot afford technology will be at a disadvantage to those who can. Technology in and outside of the classroom is always going to be an expense and one that is not always necessary. For example, the company JTF Business System’s sells Smart Boards from $1,800 to around $7,000. Many intercity or remote schools will find it hard to gather the sums to obtain a Smart Board.

It is clear that technology is not a bad thing at all when used for a healthy amount of time. Technology needs to be used smartly. Technology should never be banned from use in the classroom. Smart Boards and iPads are great for a number of different uses in schools. The main point is that technology should never overtake the traditional classroom setting.

So long as we can balance tradition and technology, technology in the classroom will only prove beneficial to students. Traditional skills of social interacting, book-based research and others allow students to connect with older generations. However, new technologically based skills are needed to make life easier. What we do not want is the traditions to be completely gone and that includes how our students learn.

Balance is key to a healthy learning experience.

What do you think? Leave us a comment!