What are the pros and cons of technology in the classroom?
Imagine it is your daughter’s first day of work after her high school graduation. She is working at a local company doing secretarial work to pay her way through college. Her new boss comes in and asks her to type the agenda for tomorrow’s meeting and email it to the staff by noon. When her boss walks away she just sits there wondering how she is going to complete this task in ample amount of time because she has no idea how to use the computer. Is it her fault that she did not learn how to use the computer? Her teachers did not have time to allow her to use the computer much; they had to prepare her for all her SOLs in the spring. At the same time, her school district had limited access to computers. She attended a school that had one computer lab that was rarely used. Her teachers would tell the students that they did not have time to “play” on the computer they had to complete the curriculum.
This is the reality of many high school graduates. They are not prepared with the necessary skills for the workplace. However, the bigger problem is, it is not their fault for some reason they were not taught to use the computer in school. There are many reasons why teachers do not use the computers as a learning resource in their classroom. Some do not favor the use of computers, others do not have the time, and some simply do not have the funding to allow the use of computers as part of their curriculum. Before we can begin discussing the use of technology in the classroom we must understand how it is integrated.
What is technology integration in the classroom?
Many people ask the question: What is technology integration and how is it possible? First, technology integration is not using the computers for twenty minutes one day instead of teaching the history of China. It is using the computers for twenty minutes a day to teach the history of China (Dockstader, 1999). Technology integration is not using computer software for unrelated purposes. According to Dockstrader (1999) technology integration is defined as “using computers effectively and efficiently in the general content areas to allow students to learn how to apply computer skills in meaningful ways” (p. 1). Secondly, technology integration is something that takes time and patience on the behalf of the teachers. This is where many people begin to disagree about technology integration in the classroom. Let the debate begin!
Pros of Technology
There are numerous benefits for the use of technology in all curricula in today’s education. Many educators have recognized these benefits and have begun to implement technology as part of their curriculum. Some educators even ask the question: Why not implement technology into the curriculum? Educators want it, parents want it, and employers want it. With our changing society today, it is important to prepare our children with the proper framework and standards to perform in the workplace. Traditional educational practices can no longer provide students with all the necessary skills (NETSP, 1-2).
The use of the computers can break up the monotony of lecture and note taking in the classroom. The use of some lecture and note taking is necessary to understand the material. However, teachers can use the computers to enhance their curriculum. The computer can be used to introduce a new topic, apply it, or review it for a test or quiz. Teachers can use video websites, websites with self-assessments, and other databases filled with information to enrich a student’s education. Websites that offer self-assessment can serve as a tutor for the teachers. According to a report entitled Computer Advantages: Tutoring Individuals, “with computers as tutors, no student will be overwhelmed because he or she is missing fundamentals, the computer will repeat material until each lesson has been sufficiently mastered” (as cited in the Journal of Educational Policy). This can be very beneficial in a classroom, because it allows the students to learn more at their own pace without feeling as if they are being held back or left behind due to the progress of the majority of the class. Technology integration can also make lessons fun and more interesting.
Teachers can integrate games via SMART Board to engage the students in interactive learning. According to The Virginia Pilot, some Virginia teachers use the SMART Board instead of flash cards or paper because it allows the student to see pictures and pause on information until it is understood (Bower, 1999).
Technology can be integrated into the curriculum early in a student's school career. The elementary school in Surry County has implemented a new computer based program called Breakthrough Literacy. It is a program that helps kindergarten students learn to read using a classroom mascot and the computer. The students must learn about the computer and the different parts of the computer before they start to use it. Soon they learn how to log in on and log off on their own. The students use headphones to follow directions through activities to help them begin to learn how to read. They spend twenty to thirty minutes a day on the computer in the lab working on their reading curriculum. Booklets and other worksheets are worked on in the classroom that goes with the theme of the week. Work is also sent home for the students to share with their parents. Integrating technology early in the school years makes it easier for the later years.
Overall the use of technology in the classroom can offer an abundance of benefits. It prepares our students with the necessary skills for the workplace, it offers a diverse learning environment, and it makes the learning environment fun and interesting.
We Learn.... (taken from an old proverb) 10% of what we read, 20% of what we hear, 30% of what we see, 50% of what we both see and hear, 70% of what we discuss with others, 80% of what we experience personally, 95% of what we teach to someone else.
Cons of Technology
Technology integration seems fun and easy to do. However, is it really that easy to integrate technology into a curriculum? Do all students perform and complete tasks like they are asked to while using the computers? The answer to both questions is, no. This is why some people oppose using technology in the classroom. First, it is hard to integrate technology as part of a curriculum if the teacher does not even know how to use all the software on the computer. Second, some educators believe that the students do not have enough basic skills and background information to use the computers. Third, some educators argue that it can interfere with the teacher-student contact. Finally, funding can be an obstacle- some schools simply can not afford to provide computers for all the students or enable them to receive proper training.
Some teachers have taught for twenty-five plus years and when they began to teach, technology was not an option in their classroom. However, now twenty some years later we as a society expect them to use technology in their classroom. Some of these teachers are not even familiar with computers and all the software available on a computer, but yet we expect them to teach our students to use the computer to learn the material. Some educators fear if they begin to integrate technology in their curriculum they will be embarrassed because the students will know more about the computers than they do. How can we expect teachers to teach our students and maintain the respect in their classroom when the students might be teaching their own teachers about computers?
Many teachers use the computers for students to do research. However, it is important that the students know some background information when researching on the Internet. “There are four things that need to be looked at to evaluate a site quickly before the resource is further considered: the author of the work, the URL, the currency of the information as well as the actual information that is provided” (Lampkins, 2007). These four things are important for students to know prior to researching on the Internet. Many educators argue that they have to first explain all this information to the students and then spend the rest of the time monitoring the research to ensure that the students are doing proper research. It would be easier to research in the library where the sources are more trustworthy.
Another argument against technology use in the classroom is that it could interfere with the teacher-student relationship. They do not want the computers to interfere with the student’s need for human support. Some argue that if the computer can act as a tutor and solve the problems for the student, then there will be no need for the teacher to interact with the students (Gulley, 2003). The students have emotional needs and the teacher must take into account these needs despite the advances in technology.
Additionally, it must be borne in mind that many of the risks of technology in general apply in the classroom. While information security policies and practices may decrease the likelihood, stalking, theft, terrorism, fraud, and so forth remain possible even within the supposedly sheltered school environment. Students can be easily persuaded into giving out personal information to online 'friends', who may then use that information to damage the students, staff, or school property.
Lastly, many schools can not afford to provide computer labs and individual computers in each classroom and continue to upgrade them every few years. This automatically puts these students at a disadvantage because they do not have the resources to be exposed to advanced technology. The Title 1 schools are just trying to make ends meet. They do not have the extra money to fund technology projects even if they desired to. Whereas, charter schools receive grants which allows them to fund project such as upgrading technology. Obviously there is a clear disadvantage in our educational system that must be worked out. Dr. Dwight Allen and Dr. William Cosby in their book, American Schools: The 100 Billion Dollar Challenge, propose that as a society we make a commitment to allocate the financial resources to provide every child with the proper technology.
There are some advantages and disadvantages to integrating technology into the curricula. However, in order to provide our students with the proper education we as a society must agree on what we want them to be accountable for. There are clearly some obstacles that we need to overcome in order to make technology use available for everyone. However, these obstacles can be overcome with staff development for teachers who are not comfortable with the software, training for the students to learn proper Internet use, and funding to provide equal opportunities for all students. The advantages of technology use outweigh the disadvantages. Technology integration can be seen as a bridge to the gap between traditional education and technological education.
Multiple Choice Questions
Click to reveal the answer.
Technology integration is:
- A. Allowing the students to work on the computer for 30 minutes a day.
- B. Using the computers during recess if the students behave.
- C. Using the computers to teach the students something specific to the content area.
- D. Using the computers as a substitute for teaching about Chinese history.
C. Using the computers to teach the students something specific to the content area.
You are a high school world history teacher and you need to teach the students about the American Revolution, using proper technology integration you would:
- A. Allow the students to research in class for 10 minutes instead of teaching.
- B. Provide an assignment that allows the students to use the computer to research the American Revolution.
- C. Show a video on the American Revolution and let some students relax.
- D. Give a lecture and then tell the students they have 5 minutes to write a summary and type it.
B. Provide an assignment that allows the students to use the computer to research the American Revolution.
This is your fifteenth year teaching in the public school system and your school wants all the teachers to implement technology into their curriculum but you have no idea how to do this. What do you do?
- A. Attend staff development technology integration.
- B. Complain about it to the other teachers.
- C. Put it in your syllabus but never teach it.
- D. Take your students to the computer lab and have them help you with it.
A. Attend staff development technology integration.
Some people disagree with technology use in the classroom because it:
- A. Is just a waste of time.
- B. Is costly and requires a lot of funding.
- C. Can take away from the student-teacher contact.
- D. Both B and C.
The use of technology in the classroom can be:
- A. A challenge to integrate.
- B. A new fun and interesting approach to teach the curriculum.
- C. A benefit for those going into the workplace but not for all because some people will never use a computer.
- D. Both A and B.
- E. Both B and C.
What are the pros of technology in the classroom?
- A. Teachers can leave all the work to the computers.
- B. Computers can break up the monotony of lecture and note taking in the classroom.
- C. Students can play games instead of reviewing for SOLs.
- D. Technology use in the classroom could interfere with the teacher-student relationship.
B. Computers can break up the monotony of lecture and note taking in the classroom.
Students who are not computer literate:
- A. Will not do as well in school.
- B. Are fine.
- C. Can easily find a job that doesn't use technology.
- D. Are not prepared with the necessary skills for the workplace.
D. Are not prepared with the necessary skills for the workplace.
Schools that want teachers to integrate technology in the classroom should require the teachers to:
- A. Take a full semester of computer courses.
- B. Take one computer class at a time and apply his/her knowledge in the classroom.
- C. Provide staff development for teachers who are not comfort with the software, training for the students to learn proper Internet use, and funding to provide equal opportunities for all students.
- D. Start looking for new jobs.
C. Provide staff development for teachers who are not comfort with the software, training for the students to learn proper Internet use, and funding to provide equal opportunities for all students.
You are a first grade teacher and you want to use the computer lab for an activity with your class. What should you do with your class first?
- A. Let them just go to the lab and do what they can.
- B. Explain the different parts of the computer.
- C. Log them on the computer and get them where you want them.
- D. Have them gather around one computer and you are the only one allowed to touch the computer.
B. Explain the different parts of the computer.
An excuse for not using technology is:
- A. We don't have time.
- B. The students don't like the computer.
- C. We are not allowed to use it.
- D. We might break it.
What is the best example of technology integration?
- A. Non-educational games.
- B. Research on Ancient Mali.
- C. Watching music videos.
- D. Registering on MySpace.com.
B. Research on Ancient Mali.
Click to reveal sample responses.
Explain several advantages and disadvantages to the use of technology in the classroom.
Some people disagree about the advantages and disadvantages of technology use in the classroom. However, it is important to know all the arguments before one can make a decision. Thirdly, some educators argue that it can interfere with the teacher-student contact. They believe that if the teachers rely on the computers to serve as tutor then the students will lose that student-teacher contact. Finally, funding, some schools simply cannot afford to provide computers for all the students to enable them to receive proper training. This problem varies from state to state and district to district.
Some of the advantages of technology integration are the skills that it provides our students with for the workplace. Many jobs are requiring that all employees have some basic computer skills and it is beneficial for the students to receive these skills in school. Secondly, it offers a diverse classroom setting. Some lecture and note taking is necessary; however a little change every once in awhile is helpful. Thirdly, the computers can serve as tutors for the students. They no longer have to feel as if they must keep up with the majority of the class. If a student does not understand a topic the computer can repeat the material as much as needed.
There are clear advantages and disadvantages to technology use in the classroom. This is a debate that will continue because many teachers have their own personal interest in their classroom.
There are several ways to use technology in the classroom. People often disagree on technology integration and how effective or useful it is. There are many advantages to integrating technology into the classroom such as preparing students for the workforce and it presents instruction on a different medium. Employers are expecting potential employees to know how to use technology and understand it. If technology is not presented in school, then the student may be unprepared for the workforce. Technology also helps to enrich as student’s education by teaching through another method instead of only lecture. Technology can reach visual learners better than lecture and it brings excitement to the lesson. Another advantage to using technology is students can learn at their pace. If they are working at a computer on a lesson, they can repeat the lesson as often as needed instead of holding the entire class back. There are also disadvantages people who are opposed to integrating technology recognize. The first disadvantage to requiring technology in the classroom is not all teachers are competent when it comes to technology. Some teachers do not know how to use a computer or may not know how to use the software available to them. This makes it harder for these teachers to use technology in their classroom. The same applies to students because the students are also at different levels of technology competency. Teachers may think students do not have the background or skills to use a computer so why bother? Two other important issues are the amount of funding a school receives for technology and the teacher-student contact. There is a shortage of funding for schools that does not enable them to have adequate technology to meet their students’ needs. The last argument is technology will interfere with teacher-student contact. People fear the computers will not provide the human support students need. Although there are disadvantages as well as advantages to using technology in the classroom, it is clear technology is important and will continue to hold a place in the lives of educators, employers and employees. This is why it is so important students should be educated on how to use technology in the most effective way. —Shannon Compton
Incorporating computers into the classroom has its advantages and disadvantages. Some people believe that computers limit a student’s ability to do their assignments properly, however; they can expand their knowledge of the topic. Computer technology can also help the student to be more creative and analyze information in a wider range than if they did not have new insights on the subject. They can help students to do job searches when they are ready to graduate or find an apartment upon the dismissal of home life. Students have the opportunity to learn how to do any basic or advanced living skill to help them survive in the real world. Even with all of the advantages of computers there are disadvantages. Teachers are still teaching a curriculum that has been used for years instead of teaching in the present more advanced way using computers to advance the students knowledge. In other words, teachers are basing all of their teaching on the textbooks instead of using the computer to their advantage. Computers are still being used for the basic, common tasks that have been used for years. Teachers are afraid that computers will take over their job. This is one of the prime reasons that technology has not been used properly in the advancement that it should be used for. There are advantages and disadvantages, but should we keep our students from learning all that they can learn? I would hope that teachers, parents and students would want to have every advantage that they can have from life, even if it means jumping a few obstacles. —Tina Osborne
Using technology in the classroom gives the students practice and preparation for the real world. Technology is not going anywhere and students today need to start as early as possible to get to know technology. The more they use it the more acceptive they will be to changes that are always occurring in the technology world. The use of technology in the classroom can make lessons more interesting and can help keep the students engaged in the lesson.
Yes there can be disadvantages to the use of technology in the classroom. Students can abuse the computer privileges they are given. They can visit sites that are not approved for the lesson or for them to visit in the first place. Computers are not the only technology students can abuse. They can also abuse the school camera with taking inappropriate pictures. Teachers can even say that using technology in the classroom can be time consuming.
One must first look at their comfort level with technology before they decide on the use of technology in the classroom. There are always advantages and disadvantages to everything in life, technology is no different. —Marilyn Russo
There are many advantages and disadvantages of technology integrated in today’s classrooms. Some advantages are computers can break up the amount of lecturing a teacher has to do and how much a student has to listen too. It also helps decrease the amount of note taking a student must do. The computer can help students understand the information needed by taking practice quizzes or tests from their classroom. They many also use the internet to research more about the topic they are studying to participate in a class discussion. Videos from United Streaming and other websites are a great way to enhance the curriculum for the students. They seem to enjoy watching movies because it is less note taking and less interaction they must take place in. Although, there are many disadvantages to having computers in the classroom too, for example, the teachers of the last generation are unfamiliar with computers and would have to be taught how to use the computer making it harder for the students to learn when the teacher does not even know how to use the computer him or herself. In addition, it is said that the relationship between the students and the teachers are lost because there is less interaction between them. The biggest disadvantage though is the cost of integrating computers into the classroom, computers are very expensive and having them in every classroom can get outrageous. Technology is slowing creeping into the classroom; soon every classroom will have at least one computer in their room, despite the advantages and the disadvantages we are in a technology world. —Jennifer Slaughter
Technology and the internet could be considered a necessary evil. Technology has its perks. It definitely is convenient and a time saver. Teachers no longer have to write their entire lectures on the blackboard for each class. Thanks to Power Point, they can now present the material with the click of a button. Along with Power Point, teachers can use online tutorials, quizzes, pictures, and educational pictures to reinforce the lecture. Technology benefits all learning styles, not just oral and visual learners. Teachers can’t possibly teach students everything, but they should teach students how to find information. Thanks to the internet, students have access to researching their questions.
Technology can benefit students outside the classroom as well. Many jobs require computer and technological skills. Even sales clerks, servers, and gas attendants have to use computers and machines to do their jobs. By exposing children to technology early, it will benefit them in the long run.
On the other hand, technology can make students lazy. They no longer have to go to the library and use books for research. They can just type in their topic in a search engine and have thousands of web sites pop up.
Technology like cell phones, iPods, and instant messaging have changed communication and personal relationships. People don’t even have to call a person and actually have voice contact with them. They can text message or send an instant message. Sometimes technology can make life too easy. —Kim Walsh
- Allen, D., & Cosby, W. Jr. (2000). American schools: The 100 billion dollar challenge.
- Bower, M. (1999). Virginia schools wired to technology. The Virginia Pilot retrieved online 1 June 2007 
- Dockstader, J. (1999). Teachers of the 21st century know the what, why, and how of technology. The Journal Online: Technology horizons in education, Retrieved online 25 May 2007. http://www.thejournal.com/articles/14141/
- Duffin, Daniel. (1998), Computers in the Classroom: Achieving an Ideal Learning Environment, Retrieved 7/20/07, http://www.nd.edu/~frswrite/issues/1998/sp99/Duffin2.shtml
- Gulley, K. (2003) "The pros and cons of technology in the classroom". Journal of Education Policy, Retrieved online 2 June 2007 from http://jep.csus.edu/journal2003/paper5.htm
- Kozma, R., & Schank, P. (1998). Connecting with the 21st century: Technology in Support of Educational Reform. Yearbook (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development), 3-27. Retrieved June 2, 2007 from http://tappedin.org/tappedin/web/papers/1998/21stCenturyASCD.pdf
- Lampkin, T. (2007). The Importance of Teaching Students How to Evaluate Resources for Learning. Social and Cultural Foundation of American Education, Retrieved online 3 June 2007 Social and Cultural Foundations of American Education/Dynamic Learning Environment/Resource Evaluation
- National Educational Technology Standards Projects (NETSP). All children must be ready for a different world Retrieved online 23 May, 2007 http://cnets.iste.org/intro.html
- Surry Elementary School. Observation June 2007.