Technology in the Classroom
By Archana Venugopal
Technology has played a vital role in improving our lives, affecting many different areas, from medicine to engineering to media and so on. With our dependency on technology growing, it’s not a wonder that it’s also been changing our education system. As time passes, more and more teachers invest in different forms of technology in order to better their teaching strategies. The issue is if these investments are really helping students move forward or if they’re simply hindering the learning process.
To start, there’s no denying that technology has had a very beneficial influence for students and professors alike. For example, professors can quickly post up assignments, lectures and syllabuses online for easy access for students. They can also save valuable class time by having students bring these to class instead of handing them out during class. Homework is also easier to complete — professors can use online homework sites and set times for due dates as well as ensure that each student is graded equally and fairly. For students who have difficulty with the assignment, their help is usually one Google search away. With numerous websites from web searches, articles on databases and even tutorials on YouTube, it’s become much easier for students to study independently.
The significance of technology is even evident in classes. Professors now use iClickers to get instant feedback and participation points from students, and students are able to bring their laptops to class in order to quickly write up notes on the lectures. Professors even use videos and animations to help make their points during lecture. Technology also helps the student-professor relationship. For students with busy schedules, they can email their professors and get feedback just as quickly as when going to office hours. Students can also take advantage of the message board on EEE to ask questions to their peers, TAs and professors. Some classes even have Facebook groups as a way to ask questions!
Tests are also affected by technology’s great influence. Instead of handing them back in class, professors now have the ability to scan and upload them online. This way, they can be certain that students get back their tests as quickly and painlessly as possible, and that they can ask for re-grades or corrections without any suspicion of cheating. Some teachers may even have tests or quizzes online, which leaves more time in class to learn. This is only a small fraction of how technology has made it more convenient and efficient for students to learn. However, though it’s extremely easy to only notice the pros of the influence of technology on education, there are also many ways that technology is impacting the learning process in a negative manner.
One huge issue that technology has caused is that the ability to cheat becomes easier every day. If a teacher asks a clicker question during class where the correct answer counts, the students can type in the question and find the answer before the teacher even finishes reading the question. Calculators too have become a tool for cheating, with their many programs and ability to store information. This is why many professors only allow scientific calculators during tests, if at all.
Technology is also not always as foolproof as people seem to think it is. It can crash at any time, which can cause huge problems with online assignments. Many professors are also still not completely technology-savvy, and can spend quite a bit of class time trying to figure out why their video, PowerPoint or clicker isn’t working like it’s supposed to.
The biggest issue is the growing dependency on technology — many students can’t help but use the computer to help them with their homework. Although it’s beneficial to look up the process to solve a problem, many get frustrated too quickly and skip straight to the answer. This defers the student’s learning because they’re letting technology think for them and this will only hurt them in the long run.
During lecture, many students bring their laptops and browse the Internet or chat instead of paying full attention to the lesson. They usually type up any notes they take too, even though there’s a lot of evidence that writing notes by hand helps people remember the key ideas better. Technology also makes people lazier as well. With lectures on podcasts that are accessible 24/7, some students won’t even bother to go to class because they know they have the podcasts as a crutch. But of course, if a student is too lazy to go to lecture, there’s not much chance that they will keep up with the podcasts either, which negatively impacts their learning.
When looking at the impact of technology as a whole, there are many factors to consider when deciding if it has a more positive or negative impact. The important thing to note is that although technology has many practical uses, people need to be aware of their dependency on it to make sure that it doesn’t get so extreme that they can’t accomplish anything without it. The more dependent people get on technology, the less they can do themselves.