Student learning is an area with enormous potential to benefit from information technology. Information dissemination is, after all, a core strength of today’s technologies. And digital technology offers versatile platforms to streamline classroom teaching.
While technology unlocks innovation opportunities, blended teaching and learning are not without disadvantages. What are the downsides that come with the powers and benefits of technology?
Debate is still going on concerning potential harm from integrating technology into the classroom. Let’s look at both sides by discussing the advantages and disadvantages of students accessing computers and digital information.
Advantages of Technology in Education
By offering digital tools and learning platforms, technology offers great advantages in school education. Students have more information at their fingertips and build technology skills. Tech can do some tasks equally or better than teachers, including administration, data gathering and supporting self-direct learning. Here are the top five pros to technology in the classroom.
1. Access high-quality, current information
Modern technology is fantastic when it comes to making information available to everyone. In a classroom setting, getting the most up-to-date data helps ensure the best educational experience. Teachers are also able to use or direct students towards trusted sources to ensure accurate information.
Students are also able to assimilate information more efficiently with the interactive presentation that digital technology allows. Instead of reading through text sequentially, the teacher or student can navigate information on a topic using hyperlinks, tabs, accordions, etc. References can be checked immediately as well.
Classroom technology definitely beats paper textbooks for accessing relevant information quickly. The trick is to place structure around activities to maintain focus and ensure the class is covering the same material. The need to keep everyone on the same page so to speak is a limiting factor in the use of technology for gaining information.
2. Gather student performance metrics easily
A clear and powerful advantage of using technology in education is that it allows teachers to perform their job better. The automatic collection of data in digital testing and learning environments has the benefits of: allowing more student performance data to be collected, freeing teachers from repetitive grading exercises, and providing instant feedback to students.
Platforms that yield data analytics can pinpoint the areas where each student is having most difficulty. Performance information allows instructors to quickly adjust teaching strategies and the syllabus according to the data gathered and analyzed.
When a given learning goal can be achieved with technology or traditional methods with about equal effectiveness, the technology-based approach may be preferred just because of the data advantages. Once in this digital environment, the technology and instructional content may be improved over time, leaving traditional instruction techniques further and further behind.
3. Students learn technology skills
Using technology in the classroom naturally increases opportunities for students to learn technology skills. While it’s possible to take all but the simplest IT skills out of a lesson, keeping some technical challenges in there is healthy for student development. After all, we live in a digital world and have things like virtual offices and working online from home.
Children are fast learners when it comes to most things but especially with technology. Given the chance, they’ll quickly build computer operation skills and digital literacy. Examples of skills they’ll learn include keyboard awareness, logging in and password protection, navigating apps, setting preferences, online document sharing, and using standard software such as text editors and spreadsheet workbooks.
Teachers can offer exercises that give pupils the opportunity to test and expand their capabilities. For example, you can give students freedom in how they present project results. The smart ones, who could perhaps become IT professionals in the future, will find and deploy internet resources, such as graphics or charting software, to enhance the presentation.
4. Improved student participation and engagement
Students generally love technology and introducing it is a way to boost engagement. Mixing up traditional instruction styles with technology makes the class less predictable and the learning environment more dynamic.
Examples of how teachers can inject technology are to: direct students to online resources, present short videos, use interactive software, make digital presentations, and ask students to create digital content themselves.
Online platforms are often flexible in allowing you to exercise your creativity. You can, for instance, customize quizzes to make them more engaging and competitive. Any good resources you find online might be useful additions to the lesson. The possibilities are limitless.
You can also apply technology to get more information from reserved students. If you need to ask the opinion of everyone regarding a topic or even a simple question, why not use an online polling platform? This way, even quiet students who normally wouldn’t want to speak in the classroom will participate.
5. Automate repetitive tasks
Teaching can include tedious tasks such as keeping track of attendance, recording quiz scores and noting tasks completed. With the present technology available, such tasks can now be partially or fully automated. This can unlock time teachers are able to divert to substantive teaching endeavors.
Existing technology can be used to help teachers in several areas: planning lessons, assessing students, grading homework, giving feedback and administrative paperwork.Jill Barshay
Implementing technology is not a costless exercise however and the effectiveness depends on how well software is programmed and made easy to use. But, over time, we can expect the work of teachers to become more streamlined. Instructors will have fewer administrative tasks and more time to capitalize on human strengths, such as making connections, inspiring students and creating a sense of shared purpose.
Disadvantages to Technology in the Classroom
The recency of many innovations means we’re still grappling with how best to incorporate technology in schools. Educators may lack the time and knowledge to implement tech effectively. Using technology without sufficient care can produce poorer learning outcomes and cause students to miss out on social interaction. These are key cons of technology in the classroom and online education.
1. Faster but less memorable learning
While the lightning pace with which technology operates may seem like a clear benefit, experienced educators are actually wary of this aspect. Devices and learning apps are able to function faster than the corresponding learning speed of the human mind. Students may gloss over material, missing texture and depth along the way.
Proper and coherent cognitive thought takes time. Otherwise, engagement can be drastically reduced. It’s for this reason experts are suggesting we modify media use, such as how videos are presented, to slow down and allow for more rumination and contemplation.
The simple act of writing something by hand has slowing, stimulatory effects that brain research has shown to aid both learning and memorization. Although efficient, typing is repetitive as each keystroke is almost the same action. Writing by hand is more challenging, intricate and slower, allowing your brain to form more “hooks” to imprint thoughts.
2. Technology can be distracting
Devices such as laptops and tablets in the classroom are bound to become sources of distraction to students. This is especially true if the software doesn’t prevent access to apps unrelated to lessons, quizzes and other educational activities.
A need exists for appropriate restrictive measures on gadgets in education to ensure they further learning goals and aren’t used, for example, to play games or use social media for pure entertainment. You can be sure that some badly behaved students will always try to use technology for fun instead of the intended purpose.
A problem here is that high school students may be more tech savvy than their teachers. One technique students use to access out-of-bounds sites is to go to a proxy site that delivers content from other sites without the student technically visiting those sites. Another method to bypass a school firewall is to use a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt browsing data so the student’s internet activities can’t be monitored.
3. Less direct social interaction
The apparent way in which technology excises social interaction is another cause for concern. Students have less need to verbally communicate and interact with their teachers and one another when using technology. Online teaching and learning excludes face-to-face interaction altogether.
To address this, classroom teachers should ensure activities such as oral presentations, recitations and group work happen regularly. There needs to be a mindfulness that we’re trying to prepare well-rounded people for adulthood.
For students addicted to gaming or social media, school might actually be a place where they get some downtime from tech. It’s up to teachers to identify when students are spending too much time with their heads buried in devices. When technology isn’t being used, students should be encouraged or pressed to show some life and interact.
4. Integrating tech is often time consuming
While technology could make the job of a teacher very easy in the future, we are not there yet. Devising effective lessons using digital technology rather than traditional methods can be challenging and time consuming. That’s why it’s important for educators to share their insights on how to effectively teach kids when there is technology in the classroom.
Showing up to your class and teaching by talking and interacting with students doesn’t require special preparation. But when you make extensive use of technology during the lesson, you’re normally going to have to prepare for that. Teachers taking advantage of technology have the same amount of face-to-face instruction time but may need to do more planning, placing an extra strain on their workload.
Online learning when classes are held remotely have shown the limitations of tech. Just trying to corral students, to ensure they’re all logged in and paying attention, is a challenge in itself. The quality of lessons suffers as educators grapple with tech while trying to meet the practical learning needs of students.