The Great Technology Debate – Of course it belongs in the classroom!

Today I read an article on FoxNews.com title “The Great Parenting Debate: Should school kids rely on computers?”.  The article provided opinions of a couple different from parent who didn’t think computers belonged in the classroom at all, to parents who thought that kids just sat and played video games and chatted on their computers, to parents who were supportive of a 1-to-1 environment. I guess I can have opinions on this from both a student, and a teacher in a 1-to-1 environment.

First, I want to look at the word “rely”. I don’t think that utilizing technology properly means that students “rely” on technology to learn, and they don’t know what to do without it. I think that it is referring to the ability to use technology in ways that allow them to do things that they wouldn’t be able to do without using it. Utilizing technology doesn’t just mean, doing what “traditional” education is but typing it instead of writing, it is collaborating, creating, and investigating in ways that cannot be done without technology. 

In 2000, when I started Grade 10, I went to into a 1-to-1 laptop environment. This was the best experience for me and the school that I was attending was ahead of the technology curve. Although there were kids that did play games in class, and chat on instant message services, I have to say for the most part, teachers learned how to design activities that were motivating and meaningful to keep students engaged, and there were ways to monitor student screens like mirrors that were helpful. Although 10 years later and there are many more games and distractions available on the computer, I think it is even more important that students learn strategies to stay focused on their work, and take responsibility for their actions on the computer. When they leave “traditional school” I think that they need to have the skills to self-monitor their behavior because in university and the work place, and real life there is no one that is monitoring this for you.

Looking back at my own personal benefits from the 1-to-1 program, when I entered university, I was one of the only people taking my notes on a laptop, yet when I finished it was close to 50%. During lectures, I was able to make connections and look up specific things that my professors where discussing, and take the lectures beyond just being spoken to, and really take the discussion further. I had “learned how to learn” and I “loved learning” and the ability that my computer gave me. I think that this is a huge statement in the fact that all of the traditional facts that students need to know are now at their fingertips if they have access to technology.

Looking at the students in my own class, I think that the question shouldn’t be “Should students have access to technology?” it should be “How can we ensure that teachers are utilizing technology in ways that motivate students to learn how to learn, and become life long lovers of learning?”, and also closing the technology divide.

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