Foundations and Assessment of Education/Edition 1/Foundations Table of Contents/Chapter 13/13.1.2

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Technology in the Classroom: Help or Hindrance?[edit | edit source]

Learning Targets[edit | edit source]

Understand how technology is used in the classroom

Get an understanding for the different technology tools available and how they can be used in a classroom

Know the positive and negative effects technology can have on a classroom and how a teacher can use technology in an effective way that helps students

Introduction[edit | edit source]

Technology integration in the classroom is becoming as common as reading and writing. Teachers in schools today are either using technology in their classrooms or learning how to use technology in their classroom. In the last five years there has been a big push for teachers to become technology savvy or at least technological competent so they can use it in their classrooms. And we are not just talking high school level classrooms. Technology is becoming part of everyday life for first and second grade classrooms just as much as it is becoming a part of high school and college classrooms.

Help[edit | edit source]

There are two sides to the use of technology in a classroom. One side is that the use of technology involves activities that encourage students to become involved and directly active parts of their lessons. (Frye, Dornisch, 2008) Students, for the most part, favor activities that allow them to be interactive in the classroom. In fact, when given a choice, a high school class chose to read their material for the course using interactivity that allowed them to become personally involved in their work rather than simply reading the material out of their textbook and listening to a lecture. (Frye, Dornisch, 2008) This in turn makes researchers and teachers realize that technology is a positive thing to have in a classroom because it helps students become involved in their school work. Using technology can give students a firsthand look at what they are studying and gives them more control over their work.

There are many examples of technology that use student interaction to teach lessons rather than simply writing down notes so students can simply "copy and listen". A Webquest is an activity that is taking the classrooms by storm and has been for a while. It is completed usually by the teacher and involves a sort of adventure that incorporates technology. (Dodge 2007) Students are given a task and they go through the Webquest and its activities in order to finish that task. In the end, they learn a lesson in an interactive way that allows them to feel that they have been a vital role in their learning experience. These lessons involve tools such as PowerPoint and Dreamweaver, and students can point and click and go to different websites and sources in order for them to finish the task.

Another technology friendly tool that teachers are using are interactive games that are used to teach students lessons. There are so many websites that cater to teachers and give them the tools or sources to use these games. Many of them involve the student playing alone or with a partner or small group. These games teach subjects from math and reading to science and history.

Another aspect of using technology in classrooms that many think is helpful for students is the use of video cameras, which allow for streaming live to different classrooms across the country and the world. Although this is not something that is done in every classroom across the country and does require certain equipment, it is said to be a very positive activity for students. Instead of learning about other regions of the country or world, they get to see it first hand in other classrooms. They can talk to the teacher and students in those classrooms and ask them questions about where they live and how their lives are different or the same as theirs.

All these activities, technology advocates say, foster a child's need to be interactive in their learning and in turn helps them become more involved and they are more excited about being involved. According to Dr. Kimberly Moore Kneas and Dr. Bruce Perry, the technologies that benefit young children the most are the ones that allow them to be interactive and allow them to develop their curiosity and thinking skills. (Kneas, Perry, 2008) They also point out that students like to have a reason for doing a task or assignment other than "just because the teacher said so". The use of technology allows students to feel that they have a real purpose for what they are learning and in turn, they perform better. (Kneas, Perry, 2008)

It appears that word has gotten out about the use of technology in the classroom. According to Education Next, taxpayers, corporations and other contributors have spent over 60 million dollars to provide schools all over the world with computers, and this is only in the last two decades. (Christensen, Horn, 2008)

"Children are already accustomed to a world that moves faster and is more exciting than anything a teacher in front of a classroom can do" Major Owens

Hindrance[edit | edit source]

While there are many arguments and facts that point to the benefits of using technology in the classroom, there is another side to the story. There are many examples, arguments and statistics that bring out the not so beneficial side of using technology in classrooms.

While many teachers are accepting technology in their classrooms and trying to embrace it with enthusiasm, there are just as many teachers who are putting their foot down and arguing that technology is not a necessity in the classroom and should not be treated as one. In response to an article posted by Jim Holland on the Techlearning website titled "When Teachers Don't Get It: Myths, Misconceptions and other Taradiddle", a teacher argues with the logic that number one, technology is a great thing to have in classrooms and is essential, and number two, that teachers who don't involve technology in their classrooms are rather lazy and unwilling to change. The arguments are that teachers have state standards they must help their students reach. (Johnson, 2006)That is just a simple fact that no teacher can argue. These standards are usually taken very seriously and are probably the most important factor that school boards and states look at. While teachers are trying to make sure that their students are mastering these skills and passing the state tests, there is little time for trying to integrate technology into every part of their classroom. Many teachers' jobs depend on making sure that the students meet the goals required. The teacher argues that until technology skills are a part of the state standards they will not be essential to the classroom. (Johnson, 2006) Another argument that some teachers might have is that their schools do not equip them with the proper equipment to even use technology in their lesson plans. Some teachers only have learning labs and they can use them at a very certain time during the day. These labs sometimes don't even have enough computers for each student in their classroom, forcing some students to share which can cause problems in their lesson plans.

Technological equipment such as computers, cameras and even Ipods can offer great learning tools. They can help students research a topic or find information from all over the world, they can help a student listen to a lecture in their own time and they can give students access to classrooms in other parts of the country. On the other side of that, they can help students cheat on exams and help students get access to harmful and inappropriate information and material streaming on the net.

Teachers must be very careful when giving their students access to the internet. Although most schools have blocks on any website that is inappropriate, sometimes this can slip by the system. Students can get pictures, information and videos that are extremely inappropriate and harmful to them. This is where technology can be quite scary. At home a lot of children have access to the internet and there are some homes that do not regulate the use of the internet very well. This can not only lead to problems at home but at school. If a student knows where this information is and wants to show it to some friends at school, there might be ways to get around the schools strict internet policies and get to this information. This is where teachers must regulate their students use of the internet and promote the internet for academic research.

Another side of technology that can be troubling is the use of an IPod. While many teachers, even in high schools, have allowed IPods in their rooms to record a lecture, it can cater to cheaters. (Carstairs 2007) In Meridian, Idaho and at other schools around the nation, IPods are being forced out of classrooms. These devices can be hidden under clothing and a tiny wire and an ear piece can be transmitted to the ear without a teacher ever knowing. They can be used to download formulas and a student can actually record all the answers to a test and simply download it into their music list and listen to it during the test. (Carstairs 2007)

In an argument defending more traditional teaching and shying away from overusing technology in the classroom, Lowell Monke points out that in classrooms with very young children, there is a need to see, feel and relate to a subject at hand. Computers, he states, simply cannot offer this type of experience. The need to get hands on experience, like touching a plant while learning about them, and the experiences that come with that cannot be offered by a machine like a computer. (Monke, 2004) Only hands on, teacher to student and student to subject interaction can offer this experience to young students. This is an experience that is said to be critical to young children's learning.

In the year 2000 (yes 2000!) the National Center for Education Statistics revealed that 99% of teachers had access to a computer! And that was eight years ago!

So What's the Verdict?[edit | edit source]

As you can read and see, technology in the classroom has many promoters who believe that technology can only help students in their learning and help them become more active in the classroom. There are also others who simply say that technology brings on bad practices and can give students access to information they should not be seeing and can take teachers away from the standards that they are taught to teach by.

Either way you look at it, technology clearly has its advantages and disadvantages but if classrooms today are any indication on which way the educational world is leaning, it looks like the promoters might be winning right now.

A Personal Look[edit | edit source]

In my experience as a student and as an aspiring teacher, I must agree that technology in the classroom can have many benefits for the teacher and the student. It can open the students world to so many new things without ever leaving the classroom. Who can say they traveled to Spain in class today if they did not have access to the computer where they could see real pictures of places as if they were there? I think that is something that must be incorporated to classroom because it can only add enrichment to students everyday activities and their learning. However, I know that there are problems with technology that must be taken care of. Student should not and cannot have access to inappropriate material and technology should not be used to promote cheating and other harmful behavior.

Now, after reading this, what's your opinion?

References[edit | edit source]

Multiple Choice Questions[edit | edit source]

1. An example of using technology to teach a lesson would be:
a. Note taking
b. Reading out loud in class
c. Talking in groups
d. Webquest Activity

2. What technological device is being banned from a lot of classrooms?
a. Cameras
b. CD players
c. Computers
d. Ipod

3. What could be a valid argument for not wanting technology to become prominent in the classroom?
a. It causes students to fight with each other over the equipment
b. It forces students to use technology when they it will not help them
c. Students can access information that is harmful for them using the internet
d. Teachers don't get any credit for teaching anymore

4. What could be a valid argument for wanting technology to become prominent in the classroom?
a. It helps students become active in their learning
b. It helps students become smarter than their parents
c. It helps students become smarter than their teachers
d. It will help students with their speech

Answer Key[edit | edit source]

1.) D 2.) D 3.) C 4.) A