Benefits and detriment of using technology in the classroom.
Using technology in the classroom has been a controversial debate for quite some time. Many people believe that the abundance of technology in our schools is hindering students’ ability to think for themselves and changing the way they think about their work. Then again, people who have faith in the benefits of technology in the classroom, argue that in the current age when information is one of the most vital components in the world economy it has become essential that instead of following solely textbook-based instructional method students need to be mainly taught a variety of approaches through adoption of emerging technologies, to obtain, process, and make use of information in the achievement of academic goals, which would eventually prepare them for the future. It is, therefore, felt that in order to arrive at a well rounded and informed opinion on the subject, true understanding of all the pros and cons of using technology in the classroom is absolutely necessary. Parents, teachers, policy makers, and students alike should, therefore, weigh and argue the potential benefits versus the detriment of using technology in the classroom.
With advancements in information and communication technology the education is now moving to another level as majority of our young people are getting access to the Internet through their smart phones, tablets, or home computers which is opening up to them a huge wealth of educational opportunity. According to a recent study by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), around 75 percent of educators think that technology has a positive impact in the education process.
While it is true that there are several benefits of tecnology in the classroom both for the students and teachers, it also has some negative implications in certain areas. Here in this article I have put together a list of some of the pros and cons surrounding the debate of using technology in the classroom for better understanding of the issue.
Benefits of technology in the classroom
1. Prepares students for the future
With a shift to global economy business is getting more and more dominated by technology. A different process of career preparation is, therefore, required for today’s students compared to those of yesterday’s generation. Technology in classroom plays a crucial role in enhancing the skills and knowledge of the students to adapt to the changing work environments. It plays a vital role in preparing the students with the necessary skills required for their careers of tomorrow.
2. Improves engagement
Technology tools can be used to boost students’ engagement and motivation in the classroom in ways that traditional classroom cannot. One of the major benefits of technology in the classroom is that students become more interested in the subjects they are studying as digital tools engage and challenge students with totally new and interactive methods using online learning resources. What is more, technology in the classroom encourages more active participation of the students in the learning process, which can be hard to achieve through a traditional lecture environment.
3. Improves Retention Rate
Besides engaging students and helping them remain active in their learning, technology in the classroom helps students to retain information and what they learn more easily. According to a study the lessons supported by digital presentations or other technologies help students better grasp new facts and enable them to remember difficult concepts much better.
4. Promotes independent learning
Using technology in the classroom gives students access to different modalities of learning as against traditional lecture environment. When students are using technology as a tool, they are in an active role rather than the passive role of recipient of information transmitted by a teacher or textbooks. Using digital devices like smart phones, tablets and computers students can gather on-line materials including most current and pertinent information themselves to explore a topic or solve a problem necessary for completion of any given project at their own pace without the physical presence of their teachers. This eventually helps them to learn the best strategies for themselves as individual learners. What is more, such approach of personalized learning is far more challenging and interesting for the students.
5. Encourages collaboration
Easier student collaboration and collaborative learning is also one of the major benefits of using technology in the classroom. It helps students to develop the collaborative and communication skills that will stand them in great stead in later life when they enter the working world. Whether you want students to work together in the same classroom, same school and even with other classrooms in different locations, technology tools and apps offer a unique setting to foster their collaborative learning skills by sharing ideas and resources with other students online or getting engaged in a group project. Facilitating collaboration between teachers and students remotely has also never been easier than it is now. With several digital tools at every teacher’s fingertips students can at anytime get connected virtually with teachers and get extended support for learning.
6. Radically changes the art of teaching
One of the significant benefits of technology in the classroom is that it can fundamentally change the learning process and the art of teaching by the teachers. Technology as a tool has greatly enhanced the way the teachers manage their classroom and present new materials. Gone are the days when the only tools for teaching are limited to books and blackboards. It need not be emphasized that visual illustrations make learning much easier for the students. With integration of technology in education, teachers can now incorporate images, videos and other graphics when delivering lessons. Interactive simulations and illustrations with the help of technology tools can create a greater depth of understanding of any subject with real world examples. The teachers can demonstrate how things work or explain any concepts far more easily with the help of digital simulations and models than through lectures in a traditional classroom. The way we look at textbooks has also undergone radical changes. The text books are no longer limited to just text and pictures. Today’s books often contain web-based sites that include additional materials such as videos, animations, and other materials to support the learning of new content.
7. Students can avoid heavy backpacks
In the traditional system the backpacks of high school students are loaded down with text-books and other study materials which they are required to carry each day in the school. With incorporation of technology in the classroom instead of carrying a bag full of books, the students can now just carry a laptop or a tablet which contain all their study and project materials in digital format.
Cons of using technology in the classroom
1. Technology could be distracting
By far, the biggest detriment of using technology in the classroom is that it opens the door for many more distractions, such as games, text messaging, email and social media. Despite several benefits of technology in the classroom that can help both students and teachers, students are easily distracted by social media like Twitter or Facebook. Use of social media through mobile devices in the classroom by the students for non-educational purposes can disrupt their learning and focus on classroom study contents. It is also a matter of concern that relying too heavily on social media can negatively affect the learning capabilities of the students of social skills, which face-to-face communication could teach. If they are not able to express themselves effectively in the real world, this may result in adverse effect on their performance at social events in future.
2. Online security and Safety
One of the major concerns when it comes to using technology in the classroom is relating to security and safety of students as pornographic, violent, and other inappropriate materials can be accessed and viewed by students easily through online tools. Cyber bullying has become a real threat among young people today for such easy access to internet by the students. This harassment has no end, which takes place in all educational institutions from grade school to college. It is due to the security reasons that most of the search engines are providing facilities for filtering and removing unwanted contents on websites.
3. Easier to deceive teachers on tests and work assignments
Another big problem of using technology in classroom that is often argued is just how easy it has become for the students to cheat on their tests and homework assignments. Students are simply to search online for an answer to a question to find an instant reply. They can easily access others’ work i.e. essays, reports, class notes, tests, etc. online, making it difficult for the teachers to know if the works submitted by the students are original.
4. Develops poor study habits
Another potential downside of using technology in the classroom is that it can result in developing poor study habits among students. The Internet makes it so easy to find answers to anything that students barely have to look for them. Because everything is now accessible online or through data saved in a computer or mobile devices, students are likely to develop lethargic attitude toward their education.
5. May cause increased social disconnect
Students are now spending too much time with their digital devices. This is already causing disconnection of students from face-to-face social activities and family communications. Incorporation of technology in the classroom would probably lead to an even greater of such disconnection as technology tools in the classroom would allow the students to have access to social networks and other websites in school hours also.
It would be apparent from the discussion above that the benefits of technology in the classroom outweigh the disadvantages. Nevertheless, while there are many positive aspects of technology use, its negative aspects cannot be ignored also. It is the responsibility of the teachers to talk with their students and guide them about the need for responsible use of the resources available to them through use of technology tools. The teachers need to balance the pros and cons of using technology tools by the students. They are to figure out the best way to integrate it so as to take full advantage of the several benefits of using technology in the classroom for overall well-being of the young students.