Technology will always be a double-edged sword, regardless of what it does or where it’s used. This is perhaps no more evident than in the classroom.
While new technologies give students access to more information than any previous generation has ever had, the advance also entails negative effects. As a teacher, it’s important for you to understand the advantages and disadvantages of technology in the classroom and how to maximize the former while diminishing the latter.
Pros of Technology in the Classroom
The benefits of technology in the classroom are numerous. Take a look at some of the top advantages:
- Independent learning. According to Sam Eldakak, a researcher and author who has spent a great deal of time analyzing the issue of technology in the classroom, “Students who collect data from the Internet can be self-directed and independent.” In other words, the web gives students an opportunity to make discoveries and pursue learning in ways that were once impossible without the assistance of a librarian or informed professor.
- More engagement. The Internet provides students with engaging content that isn’t rivaled by boring textbooks. For example, a student who’s asked to write a research paper on Bengal tigers can watch a YouTube video of the animals in their natural habitat, listen to an interview with a zoologist, and pull up colorful infographics with compelling statistics …as opposed to reading a chapter in a book and relying on a couple of black and white images.
- Better teaching opportunities. For teachers, technology can greatly enhance the way you manage the classroom and present new material. You too have access to videos, online resources, and various new technologies. Using these to make lectures more interesting, you can actually do students a favor and encourage them to learn.
Drawbacks of technology in the classroom
Despite plenty of positives of technology in the classroom, there are also a handful of potential negatives. Here’s a look at a few of those:
- More distractions. According to Faria Sana, a McMaster University researcher, allowing tablets, laptops, and mobile devices in the classroom can be detrimental to learning. “It can change your grade from a B+ to a B-,” she explains. Her argument is that while technology enhances the potential for learning, it’s often used inappropriately in the hands of irresponsible students. As a result, it serves as a distracting force, rather than an empowering one.
- Encourages laziness. Some within the educational system believe technology has encouraged laziness in students by giving them everything they need at their fingertips. Instead of having to actually learn, students can grab the information they need and merely regurgitate it without being required to digest and shape it, let alone think for themselves.
- Makes cheating easier. Small devices can be hidden virtually anywhere and used to find answers to tests or homework questions. It’s also possible for students to take a picture of a test and send it to their friends. While dishonest students will probably always find a way to cheat, technology makes it so much easier, and therefore possibly more widespread.
How to handle technology in the classroom
As a teacher or school administrator, it’s up to you to determine how technology will be handled in the classroom. Although you can’t control everything, there are certain aspects you can influence to achieve a more positive and effective learning environment. By maximizing the advantages and limiting the disadvantages, you can ensure your students are better poised for success.
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