Introductory Concepts

Technology in the Classroom: Vice or Virtue??

In recent articles reviewed in class, there was much discussion as to the merit of technology in the classroom. Is it of utmost importance to be incorporated whenever possible, avoided like the plague, or balanced like a tightrope walker balances the pole?

tightrope walking

On the one hand, people such as these advocate that kids are so used to an environment rich with the excitement and stimulation of technology, that to not have that same access in the classroom would render said classrooms dull and unrelatable. It would also stand to reason, from their perspective, that the skills used in the classroom wouldn’t transfer as well to a life where technologies are a central aspect of most functions. The flip side of that coin has folks such as exemplified here that are of the opinion that “Technology should not be used to do what can be done without it.” Then you have those that fall in the middle, asserting that technology is a great tool, but shouldn’t replace basic skills needing mastery, such as the physical act of writing.

So, there is a wide range of opinions on this matters, as is true for most things. Basically, there is the spectrum from those that want a classroom as technologically involved as possible, and the other end of the pendulum swing that would rather not use technology unless absolutely necessary. While I land somewhere in the middle, I can see how the use of technologies for writing, grading, and a litany of other activities can use various forms of technology, whether that be iPads, software, blogging, story writers, animators, and the like. That being said, I’ve a significant concern over the seemingly increasing attachment that our young people are developing to electronics. There are studies such as this and this that explain how screen time and/or exposure to electronic devices including social media, computers, and TV, are negatively impacted by the barrage of technology in their world. There are social emotional risks, increases in ADHD and obesity, as well as behavior and sleep problems related to being “plugged in” as much as is normal in our society. When socializing looks more like this instead of a little more like this, then, Houston, we have a problem.

That being said, this issue is important as one cannot reasonably deny the usefulness of technologies. There’s grading and assessment software, ways for kids to work in groups outside of school, avenues for keeping touch with distant relatives at the push of a button, apps for Apple and Android that help those with communication disabilities, and so on. In the end, I think the key is balance. It think it’s important for kids to develop the patience and fine motor skills involved with handwriting (including cursive), drawing, and calculating by hand, for example, but there is definitely a place for technology in the classroom.