Goodbye Blackboard, Hello Smart Board

Technology's evolving role in education.

Moving from the Dewey decimal system and pull-down maps, to Google and electronic tablets, it’s undeniable that educational resources have greatly matured in the past few decades. Technology is no longer optional for academic learning; it’s an essential part of the classroom experience. And when strategically implemented, it can be invaluable to teachers and students.

But when does technology help and when does it hinder a student’s scholarly success? You be the judge. Here are key advantages and detriments of the techie presence in academia.

Cons

  • Because information on the web is unfiltered and can be rife with fallacies, children should not rely on online information, although they often do. It’s important to teach kids how to think critically and logically, a lesson that cannot be pumped out of a machine.
  • Many staple lessons have been removed from curriculums. For example, cursive writing has been replaced by typing lessons and multiplication tables by calculators.
  • When students approach later grades like in high school and must use tangible resources for research projects, they have difficulty navigating books efficiently.
  • Because students are constantly plugged in, they often fail to develop one-on-one communication and conversational skills. Additionally, technology may isolate students and diminish attention, concentration, listening skills and persistence.
  • More work is crammed into a semester since information is readily available.

Pros

  • Our society has access to information on an extreme scale. Thirty years ago, a research project might have taken six weeks to complete. Today, one can be finished well in two weeks, leaving more time to explore other topics.
  • New software gives children the opportunity to develop their creative sides. “For brainstorming ideas before writing, programs such as Inspiration allow students to create web-based diagrams containing their ideas, along with pictorial representations,” says Emily Levy, founder and director of EBL Coaching, a New York City-based tutoring program for students in grades pre-k to 12.
  • If a child is absent from school, he or she can find homework assignments online. Gone are the days of having to trek to a classmate’s house to pick up hard copies of materials. Parents and teachers can also stay in contact online regarding a student’s progress.
  • Whether your child is a visual, auditory or multi-sensory learner, technology accommodates all learning styles. Teachers no longer need to split up kids.
  • Technological advances, such as assistive technology, greatly help children with special needs. “Students with special needs benefit from text-to-speech programs where books and articles can be read to them, dictation programs where they can dictate their ideas, note-taking programs and software programs that help reinforce basic reading, writing and math skill[s],” Levy adds.

Although education heavily relies on technology, balance is possible with help from skilled and committed teachers. Because kids of Generation Y tend to scour the Internet, download pictures and blog as soon as the school day ends, teachers and educators should assist children with harnessing those skills. Students should be able to take the vast amount of knowledge at their fingertips to create their own ideas and conclusions. After all, the world is their oyster.