Technology has been used in most schools since the ‘90s (remember CD-ROMS?), but it still has some hiccups. We weigh in on some of the most problematic issues facing the edtech world today.
5. The crutch
Students are so quick to turn to the Internet to answer questions that some believe critical thinking has gone down the tube. Spelling is no longer something tested if everything is autocorrected and spell checked. This may be a larger issue of technology on our memory and brain-strength, but if we are using the Internet in schools, then kids are being taught to use Google to answer all their questions and to essentially, copy and paste their knowledge. Education needs to figure out how to use technology in a way that doesn’t replace knowledge, but reinforces it.
4. The crash
Before it was the dog ate the homework, now it’s the computer crashed and “It was all done before it got erased!” But, this popular excuse is used because it does happen. When using the computer and all its glitches to create a project that requires hours of work, it sometimes gets erased, doesn’t transfer over correctly, doesn’t save, or for one human error or another is gone. Many technology rookies have been in this position and curse at the computer that has stolen hours. Some students struggle simply to complete work that it seems unfair to put obstacles in their way, especially when some students may not have programs or the technology at home to become familiar with it. The problem with technology glitches is also seen with online textbooks. Some students have issues accessing textbooks at home if they don’t have a large enough bandwidth. Other access problems to online materials can delay students and put them behind in class.
3. The old-timer
Some teachers do not utilize the technology they’ve been given. They have been teaching for years and don’t want to incorporate something new into their time-tested lesson plans. Some schools are pushing instructors to incorporate technology into their syllabi and when it is poorly taught the technology is not used at optimal level. Any teacher given high-tech programs and expected to teach it in the classroom deserves proper training, and sometimes it isn’t provided.
2. The Facebook
And Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, etcetera. Putting a computer in front of a high school student and expecting them NOT to go on Facebook or any other distracting non-school related site is kind of a joke. And it isn’t just the younger students that are in danger of losing focus; even graduate students can hardly help themselves to online distractions in the classroom. When keeping students excited and focused on the lesson at hand is one of the hardest task a teacher faces, a computer can be one of the most detrimental things to that student’s learning.
1. The Band-Aid
The idea that technology can save education may have some truth in it, but it may be problematic to treat all our educational issues with technology. In 2007, Education Week reported on a major federal study that found, “no difference in academic achievement between students who used the technology in their classrooms and youngsters who used other methods.” If students aren’t proficient in their studies to begin with and technology is used incorrectly, a whole mess of problems could arise. What’s wrong with the Band-Aid thinking is that technology needs to be planned out into schools in a very precise manner in order for it to be effective, and to cover all of education’s problems in a Band-Aid may further aggravate the issues.
Comment below if you have something to add to the list or a different perspective on one of the items above, and make sure to check back for the top ways technology is improving education!
Michelle is a current graduate student at Emerson College and an intern at Boston's public radio station. She enjoys exploring the world of educational technology and writing about the ever-changing sector and its potential.