Is technology the answer? Is it a way to improve students’ ability in the classroom and tap into a part of learning that will benefit the students? According to the New York Times article “In Classroom of Future, Stagnant Scores” Amy Furman, a seventh grade English teacher in Arizona believes it is. Her classroom has been transformed by technology to create an environment where technology is the focal point of learning in her classroom. Her school district thinks technology is the answer as well, devoting almost $33 million towards technology in their classrooms. But are they jumping the gun here?
Just because technology is at everybody’s fingertips and so many people have access to it does not mean that it will improve test scores or solve academic problems that cannot be remedied by traditional academic teachings. At least that’s what the results show from reading and math scores since 2005 in the school district. Even though the state of Arizona as a whole scores have risen, in this technology-based program there hasn’t been much positive uptick.
While the idea of being able to help students learn with something that they like to use, iPads, chrome books etc. etc. putting this much time and money into “hoping “that it will produce results to me is a poor choice of funding. While I respect the fact that teachers and school districts want to engage their students and create an environment where learning is fun, knowing whether technology will have a positive impact should be known before devoting $33 million dollars towards it.
Organizations like the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation and other tech companies have found a source of income in the public school system. Promoting technology in education just reinforces their bottom line. Of course they are going to say that these products will improve test scores and help with education, they’re the ones who make a profit off it when you do buy it.
Let me be clear here, I’m not saying the technologies evil. I believe that technology is like any tool, it all depends on how you use it. The fact that very few studies have been done to find out whether technology in the classroom is beneficial says to me that we are at a point where altering our curriculum and investing time and money in to something that has not yet been proven to be effective is the wrong course of action.
In an article by Jean Montano called “6 Pros & Cons to Technology in the Classroom” about both pro’s and cons he discusses that while there are valuable lessons to be learned from technology, skills like learning to write emails, proper etiquette when communicating online via chat rooms, and understanding the difference between reliable and unreliable sources on the Internet, and learning how to create digital presentations these are all things that use technology as a tool to gain a skill, not use technology in replacement of previous lessons or curriculum.
As a parent, a student, and a future educator, I look at technology from several different angles. As a parent of an 11-year-old who loves the iPad and Clash of clans I see how it can engulf him and control his life. I might sound like somebody stuck in the olden days, but education has been technology free up until this point and to jump on the technology bandwagon at this point before any research is done that justifies it to me is in a rational decision.
As a student I see the many different ways technology makes being a student easier, but at the same time the loss of interaction and communication face-to-face hurts us more than it helps. While technology is definitely a part of our society and businesses everywhere, we still have to learn and communicate with other human beings.
As a future educator I have seen many instances where education has improved the classroom. Being able to use iclickers in a classroom to know whether students are struggling with a certain subject or issue that is being discussed in class is very beneficial. And as we all know everybody learns in different ways. For me it is about how you use the technology which makes a difference. Are you structuring everything that you do around technology or are you using technology to assist students with learning a particular subject?
We should not jump the gun and put in the time the money and effort into incorporating technology in the classroom before we know whether it actually helps the students in the way we want them to. Technology in the classroom can be an excellent instrument to assist with learning, as long as we use it wisely.