Technology in the Classroom

Credit: The New Yorker

Technology has been depicted as a blessing and a curse, so which is it? Many students and teachers alike will tell you how there is no way they can see a world without being able to use some sort of technology while trying to teach or learn new information. Schools across the world have gone from using chalk and a blackboard to making PowerPoints and having an online blackboard to display assignments, announcements, grades, and notes. Many will tell you that they’d rather have the latter of the two. Two articles chosen are about technology usage in schools and academic establishments. Both talk about the impact of technology in a classroom setting and whether they are being used correctly and in a productive manner. The second article listed goes on to talk about how over the years there had been an increased interest of using technology in schools. Whether technology in the school zone is of necessity or luxury is up to the reader.

Author Ping Lim believes that, “… technology-mediated learning environments provide opportunities for students to search for and analyze information, solve problems, communicate and collaborate, hence equipping them with a set of competencies to be competitive in the 21st century marketplace” (Lim).

Will Technology Hinder or Enhance?

Lorraine Jackson of California Polytechnic State University, questions whether students at her own institution are using their technology privileges effectively. Ms. Jackson provides information towards the fact that many of today’s students have not been accustomed to a life without the access of some sort of laptop, tablet, or cell phone. To better explain herself, she brings up the debate of whether electronics are a help or a hindrance in the classroom and mentions that some of her colleagues are divided on this issue and do not allow their students the use of technology during class time. She created a questionnaire regarding the purpose of the students’ electronics, what they did with them, and whether the students believed the electronics heightened their own learning experience. With the results, she created recommendations to teacher and professors using what the students had to say about electronics usage. The author notes that ultimately, the decision is up to the instructors and their own beliefs to allow the usage of electronics.

After transitioning from high school to college, you experience a greater freedom that isn’t just being far away from your parents. This also includes a classroom setting where some professors will not ask why you are not doing the homework. There are classes, and certain types of students, where, depending on if you need to know the information, then you do not need to participate much in the class. This obviously is based on your previous knowledge and your work outside the class. This may lead the student to open their laptop and waste some time to try and make the class go by faster. However, there are other students that take advantage of the resources and the freedom that we now have to bring laptops into class. From looking up terms that are unknown or to follow along with the professor, many students like this to try and take advantage of having an all-purpose academic tool that many laptops and tablets are perfect for.

Professor Jackson used a Likert scale to understand the “Students’ perceptions and practices” of technology in the classroom with 1 being they strongly disagree and 5 being strongly agree. The students were given questions such as ‘Sometimes I use my laptop, tablet, or mobile device for non-academic reason during class’ and responded with a mean score of a 3.73 which is equivalent to a neutral response in the Likert scale key. All the responses were between a 2.11 and 3.87 which is either a ‘Disagree’ or a ‘Neutral’ response. Questions like ‘It is ok for students to use mobile technology for personal or non-academic purposes anytime during class’ had a mean response of 2.61 and ‘I have been distracted by other students’ use of mobile technology in the classroom’ was given a 2.39. Both fall in the ‘Disagree’ category. Open ended responses were also given with the question of “What are your positive perceptions of laptop computers, tablets, or smartphones in the classroom?”. The most common response with 60% of students mentioning this reason of ‘useful for note-taking’. Other popular responses were ‘search capability’ and ‘access to class materials and PowerPoints’ with 41 and 35 percent, respectively.


Can technology be of any use?

So far there does not seem to be an outright decision whether using technology in the classroom can be helpful or not. These articles were used to shed light on some concerns, while also pointing out how much technology has benefited so many other aspects of life, whether they be in the entertainment industry, in the scientific field, or in academics. There are many schools who are under pressure by outside parties such as parents, students, and country officials that can be summarized when the author states, “the public at large and from policymakers to ensure that technology is used for teaching and learning. And that gives students’ learning outcomes are enhanced from the considerable magnitude of investment in technology” (Lim). This pressure has developed from the amount of use technology has outside of school.

This ends up begging the question: ‘why aren’t we using this for a learning purpose?’.

Technology is used in classrooms around the country, and even around the world. Not being able or choosing not to use technology would hinder many young students throughout their schooling career. The newest generation of kids being ushered into the school system have already had hours upon hours of time on an electronic device before they hit the kindergarten level. Whether they are playing a game on their parents’ smartphone or watching a video on a tablet, there are numerous amounts of toddler to grade school age children that know how to open their parents’ devices and open the app they are looking for to watch a video or play a game. Now, as we fast-forward a couple years into the middle school level, this gets to the point and time where iPad and laptops are being supplied by the schools for classes to checkout and use. As these students get older and smartphones start to become even more common, there is the inevitability that they will whip out their phone during class to check messages, social media, or just to pass the time. As mentioned before, many different professors have many different guidelines regarding technology use. However, they can be hard to enforce across all levels of schooling. Instead of trying to prohibit the use of technology, what should be done is enhancing and redirecting the personal use to an educational use. One thing technology can do is to help promote the more creative side of children. Many people claim that the schooling system is hindering child creativity. Children are not really learning facts, they are just memorizing information. There have been many times where I have been studying for the test knowing that I would not need the information when the exam was over. There are numerous programs, websites, and databases with the goal of providing a fun and interactive way to switch up the way many young people learn and retain information.

Online Resources for Students

Kahoot: A website easily accessible by smartphone that enables everyone and anyone to create their own quiz that can be about any subject or course

Quizlet: A site that lets students create their own flashcards then post them for other students to study and learn from. These online resources can easily replace pen and paper tasks that many student are uninterested and can be a hassle to be completed.

Luminosity: An app for Android or Apple products in which you play games that stimulate different parts of your brain such as your memory, attention to detail, and other cognitive tasks.

Crash Course: This is a YouTube Channel that focus on all sorts of subjects from ancient world history to economics. Hosted by Best Selling author John Green, this is a fun way to touch up on facts from World War Two or to learn something new about Attila, the Hun.

Brain Pop: Brain Pop is just like Crash Course but is geared towards younger elementary level students. Hosted by animated characters Tim and Moby, they provide a humorous way to teach younger kids about the so called ‘Mysteries of Life’. Brain pop is also host to online games and mental challenges for students.

The Verdict is… it depends.

As mentioned before, each professor will have a different stance regarding the use of items such as laptops and tablets but where many of these professors have problems with revolve around the use of smartphones. This is the case when talking to George Washington University Professor Joseph Garrett. When asked about the sort of ‘addiction’ that many smartphone users have, he responds with, “I think, however, that technology (especially social media technology) can have a harmful effect in that people may spend too much time staring down at their devices. Oddly, this can make people more disconnected — opposite popular belief that they are more connected. There have been studies on this, and it deserves some attention” (Garrett). However, when talking about the use of technology in his classroom, he mentions that he uses programs such as R with his lessons which are displayed through PowerPoint. He does this to encourage students to follow along on their own devices to better understand the material. Lastly, when asked about whether he could see a world where no technology is used in teaching, he responds with, “Not really. Perhaps not all of the technology is equally useful or needed, it is still nice to give teachers the tools and let them decide” (Garrett). The viewpoints from both the students and teachers must be included when trying to distinguish between the benefits and limitations of personal devices while in the classroom or some sort of educational setting. When this is achieved, where more professors continue to accept and integrate technology for different educational uses and where students understand the expected use of the devices, the learning environment will only improve from where it is now.

“In a best-case scenario, such a plan will stimulate a dialogue among school managers, teachers and parents about technology in the curriculum. Moreover, engaging teachers in development of policy planning gives them the opportunity to reflect on their particular educational use of technology” (Lim).

All parties need to be involved in the discussion of the use of technology. The best way to go about this is to ask any students and teachers from a wide range of schools with no criteria in mind. Having a random search will best get a wide contrast of students and teachers so all perspectives can be discussed. Having a constructive conversation will move along the topic regarding how and what the technology will be used for. There obviously isn’t any single solution that will fix the problem instantly. It will take time and a multitude of discussions to effectively integrate the use of technology in the schooling systems.

· Ping Lim, Cher, et al. “Bridging the Gap: Technology Trends and Use of Technology in Schools.” Journal of Educational Technology & Society, vol. 16, no. 2, Apr. 2013, pp. 59–68. EBSCOhost, =true& db=a9h&AN=9633 5650&site=ehost-live. Web. 7 Oct, 2017

· Lytton, Charlotte. “Pay-per-laugh? How future tech is transforming the entertainment industry.” CNN, Cable News Network, 6 Nov. 2014, tech/index.html Web. 7 Oct, 2017.

· Jackson, Lorraine D. “Is Mobile Technology in the Classroom a Helpful Tool or a Distraction?: A Report of University Students’ Attitudes, Usage Practices, and Suggestions for Policies.” International Journal of Technology, Knowledge & Society, vol. 8, no. 5, Sept. 2012, pp. 129–140. EBSCOhost, =true& db=a9h&AN=9154 4655&site=ehost-live. Web. 7 Oct. 2017

· Garret, Joseph. Technology in the Classroom. Andres Jovel. Email Interview. 7 Oct. 2017