Monday, May 10, 2010

Technology in the Classroom – Hindrance or Help?

I know the title of this post may seem inappropriate considering the times we live in. Our world would come to a standstill without technology, so why are we even asking the question if it would be more of hindrance than help in a classroom? The fact is that technology is good when used in the right way, but when you don’t know how to use it or if you use it for the wrong purposes, then it is more a destructive weapon than a constructive tool.

When it comes to the school classroom, there’s a reason why technology should be restricted. Consider a scenario where children are allowed to use their notebook computers and iPods to take notes or augment their study sessions, where they can access the Internet during lessons to look up difficult words or find simple answers to complicated subject matter, and where they can use technology to communicate their responses to their teacher instead of having to raise their hand (i.e. like clickers which are a boon for shy students who are silent in class because they are too inhibited to raise their hands and speak when a question is asked – students can type in their answer and receive instant responses as to whether it is right or wrong).

While this enhances the learning experience and broadens the horizons of students, it could also prove to be distracting for some. The Internet offers too many distractions, some of which are downright dangerous for kids who don’t know better. Also, with student-teacher interaction being relegated to technological realms, are we not turning real classrooms into virtual ones? Why not allow students to take online classes from their homes if we are going to use technology to communicate inside the classroom?

Again, the answer to these questions lies with the people who use and benefit from (or lose through) this technology. Students need to be mature enough to be trusted with technology, and the right age to do this is perhaps when they’ve moved on to college and are more responsible when it comes to using the Internet. At the school level however, they need more supervision and levels of control.
While there’s no doubting the fact that technology can be a huge help in the classroom, it’s up to the educators to see that it is used responsibly. Otherwise, what is definitely an advantage turns out to be more of a disadvantage.

This guest post is contributed by Shannon Wills, she writes on the topic of Internet Providers. She welcomes your comments at her email id:

1 comment:

Steven Bleau said...

Hi Eric and Shannon,

You bring up a very interesting topic: the effectiveness of technology in the classroom. I agree that technologies benefits some students and pose a disadvantage to others. However, I think banning the internet from high school students outright is too sweeping. The problem of internet distraction is also prevalent at the college level.

I think one answer lies in how we structure classroom activities. For example, assign small team projects to groups of 3 or 4. That way, social loafers will feel the pressure from his peers to focus on the task at hand.

Take care.

Instructional Designer