The Role of Technology in the Classroom

      “Alright, put your phones away. Time for class.” The phrase echoes in the mind of anyone who has step foot in an American classroom in their lifetime. Understandably, educators at every level from primary and secondary education to college professors shouldn’t have to compete with the distractions of social media. A mundane idea: Should students be allowed to employ the latest technology to aid in the learning experience? I think is deeper than we imagine it to be.

      So what is the role of technology in the classroom? I know from my interactions with a myriad of educators that the primary issue is always attention. How can students be expected to focus with all that going on in their lap? Worse yet, those distractions could lead to students thinking they can get away with cheating on assignments.

      However, many students, myself included, make use of technology for (what I would like to believe are) more noble purposes. With the internet at our fingertips, information is readily available and can inform discussion and settle debates. Some students have also argued that taking notes digitally is more organized and helps them focus. In my own personal journey with attention deficit disorder (ADD) I used to need to take pictures of powerpoint slides and copy them later so I could actually focus in class and participate in discussion.

      Further still, I think a more radical argument could be made that even the use of smart phones to text and email during class has its merits. Anyone who has ever worked in an office knows you need to develop multitasking skills to stay on top of your responsibilities and meet deadlines. If the student thinks they can handle it, and are not distracting their peers, the case could be made that they should be allowed to cultivate their multitasking and  communication skills.

      Back on the other side of the argument, studies have shown a correlation between traditional note taking methods and test scores. Additionally, a there is some credence to the criticism that it causes uneven footing for students without regular access to technology. It is certainly convenient for a professor to run online classes on days where the class is unable to meet, but some students might not have a working internet connection at home or even access to a computer at all. While it might seem trite, there might be more method to the perceived madness of the “old-fashioned-way” than we realize.

      While there are challenges, I usually err on the side of progress. Technological advances should never scare us, because it is never the tools themselves that are at fault, but our lack of care to use them responsibly.

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