Foundations of Education and Instructional Assessment/Technology/Effect

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Technology in Education: Help or Hindrance?
By: Lisa-Marie Marconi


Learning Targets[edit]

  • Readers will be able to identify different types of technology that are used in classrooms today.
  • Readers will understand the advantages and disadvantages of classroom technology for both students and teachers.

Introduction[edit]

When a person pictures a classroom, usually he or she would think of a black or green chalkboard that comes with different colored chalk. Within the last decade or so, chalk has turned into a keyboard and chalkboards have turned into drop-down screens known as “SMART boards.” Pencils have been replaced with stylus, paper with Ipads, Ipods, laptops, and Alphasmarts. Today technology is infiltrating classrooms everywhere; the traditional classroom setting that we have come to know is now becoming obsolete. However the question is: Are the new state-of-the-art classrooms really beneficial for teachers and students, or are they obstructing lessons?

What's New in Classrooms?[edit]

The first thing that is noticeable about a state-of-the-art classroom is the teacher’s desk. Over the years that has changed quite a bit; there used to be just books on it or maybe a desk calendar. Now, a computer can be seen on almost every teacher’s desk in each classroom. Each teacher's computer comes with a few things such as: a SMART Board, and a projector that is connected to the computer to show images on the SMART Board. The images that are shown on the SMART board can range from Microsoft PowerPoint presentations to videos of the content being taught. For example in a college philosophy class, the teacher may use a PowerPoint presentation as a way to summarize point-by-point what he or she is lecturing while students will copy down notes, or sometimes the teacher may show a historical video about Socrates. So not only are the students receiving their lesson, they are also watching a historical reenactment of something that Socrates did, and all of this is done through the computer. Not only does the computer play a role in teaching a lesson, but it also helps teachers take attendance and calculate grades. In fact, some college teachers post their grades on what is known as “Blackboard,” which is a website that helps students keep in touch with their teachers on what is happening in class. Another way technology is used is through computer laboratories, where each student can sit with a computer to do research, or perhaps work on an in-class assignment.

Blackboard: http://www.blackboard.com/

Click & Clone: http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/tech/cloning/clickandclone/

Some classrooms are still basic in some ways, yet these classrooms are still using some form of technology. This primitive form is usually known as the textbook-and-lecture lesson, and some teachers still use this form, but with new technology in it. For example, in a 5th grade lesson on science the students might learn about electricity through a textbook, but they will also have a chance to watch a video on how electricity works, or maybe they will go to a computer laboratory to research information on that topic. Sometimes teachers may find online or interactive games to show their students and to help them get involved in the lesson. For example, in a high school biology class, a teacher could use what is called “Click and Clone,” or an interactive game that has the students clone an animal through step-by-step instructions. The game teaches the student about cloning while providing fun animations to watch as they clone the animal. Teachers can lecture with a textbook if they choose to do so, but they can also use technology as part of a lesson- this depends on how each teacher wants to present his or her lesson. The technology may often be available to teachers, but that does not mean they will need to use it every time.

Advantages[edit]

Several advantages come with this new classroom, but the first advantage is that it promotes a whole different way of learning: project- based learning (Lohr, 2008). This allows students to take a hands-on approach to learning. Instead of learning from a textbook, the students can almost experience what is written in the textbook. For example if students were learning about a current issue with rising oil prices, then they would have to make a new energy policy (Lohr, 2008). This kind of assignment promotes leadership, organizational skills, and computer skills which leads up to another advantage of educational technology: students will have a greater chance of getting hired for a job someday. Leadership and organizational skills are two main characteristics that employers look for when hiring. Aside from achieving those skills, students can also get hired for simply knowing how to use a computer because according to the U.S. Department of Education, about 60% of jobs require computer skills (2003). Educational technology also helps students produce a better quality work, especially in their writing. When students work with word processors they tend to feel more comfortable because it takes less time to write what they are thinking, and gives their writing a professional feel once they have printed their work (Dorricott & Peck, 1994). One last important advantage of using technology in the classroom is that it motivates students to go to school everyday. Schools that use more technology show better attendance rates and lower dropout rates compared to past reports (U.S. Department of Education, 2003).


The U.S. Department of Education reports that students who use technology in school did better than their peers on standardized tests of basic skills by 30% (2003).

Disadvantages[edit]

While educational technology may have its advantages, it also has its disadvantages. First, teachers are struggling to grasp the concept of the different technologies available. Many teachers do not know how to use the computer or have few computer skills. Some teachers even feel scared because they fear that this will make them feel embarrassed if they make mistakes with using the computer while teaching. Many teachers are also fearful of technology because they feel that it will change their way of teaching; they will have to use unfamiliar things in their lessons. A very good way to solve this is to have the teachers take computer classes to help motivate them to get used to this change (J. Bitner, 2002; N. Bitner 2002). Another disadvantage could be the use of PowerPoint. Some teachers use PowerPoint so much that it actually makes the student bored, and it does not help the student memorize the content due to lack of interaction (Klemm, 2007). If a teacher shows a PowerPoint but does not stop to elaborate and get the class involved, then students will not feel motivated to learn what is being taught. One last disadvantage is that sometimes computers can have problems, which may cause a disturbance in a lesson. If the computer freezes while a teacher is presenting a slideshow then the lesson will be delayed until it is fixed.


Research shows that slide-shows can actually be less effective than the traditional learning when a teacher uses a blackboard(Klemm, 2007). This is due to lack of interaction with students as the computer screen becomes their new source of notes.

Conclusion and Thoughts[edit]

Classrooms certainly have changed over the years, but what counts the most is their efficiency. Educational technology has its moments, but at the same time it can open students’ minds and help them to achieve great things that will help them in the future. The only way technology can be effective is if the teacher becomes educated in what tools are available, and learns how to use the tools appropriately. If the teacher relies on just the technology as their way of teaching, then it will not get through to the students. A teacher should still be a little old-fashioned, even in this new age. Teachers can lecture and use textbooks, but they should still show important videos and allow students to participate in interactive games. Students will gain knowledge from textbooks, but gain experience through technology.

References[edit]

Benefits of Technology Use. (2003). Retrieved January 7, 2009, from U.S. Department of Education web site: http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/os/technology/plan/national/benefits.html

Bitner J., & Bitner N. (2002). Integrating technology into the classroom: Eight keys to success. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 10(1), 95-100. Retrieved from Wilson Web database.

Dorricott, D., & Peck, K.L. (1994). Why Use Technology? Educational Leadership, 51(7), 11-14. http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational_leadership/apr94/vol51/num07/Why_Use_Technology%2b.aspx

Genetic Science Learning Center. (2003). Click & Clone. Retrieved January 7, 2009, from University of Utah web site: http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/tech/cloning/clickandclone/

Klemm, W.R. (2007). Computer Slide Shows: A Trap for Bad Teaching. College Teaching, 55(3), 121-124. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.

Lohr, S. (2008, August 16). At School, Technology Starts to Turn a Corner. New York Times, p.BU4.


Multiple-Choice Questions[edit]

1. What is project- based learning?

a) A way of learning through hands-on assignments.
b) Learning through PowerPoints given in class.
c) Taking many field trips to promote learning.
d) The textbook-and-lecture style of learning.


2. What percentage of jobs require computer skills today?

a) 90%
b) 80%
c) 70%
d) 60%


3. Mrs. Jones is teaching her history class about Supreme Court trials, and tells her class to get into groups. She assigns a trial to each group and tells them to research their assigned trial, write a short paper on it, and that starting on the due date each group will act out their trial. What kind of learning does this assignment promote?

a) Textbook-and-lecture learning
b) Historical learning
c) Project-based learning
d) Experience learning


4. Mr. Smith uses PowerPoint presentations everyday in his biology classes and says strictly what is written on each slide. What is wrong with his way of teaching?

a) He is allowing his class to have too much fun.
b) He is not interacting enough with his class.
c) He is leaving out certain facts when he speaks.
d) He does not seem enthusiastic about what he is teaching.


5. Student pencils and paper have been replaced with:

a) Crayons and Portfolios
b) Stylus and i-pods
c) Brushes and easels
d) Laptops and cellphones
e) Both b and d

Answer Key[edit]


1) A, 2) D, 3) C, 4) B, 5) E,