Technology in the Classroom Defines Student Learning

By Stephanie Guerin ‘13
EE Staff Writer

Now more than ever, teachers are reporting weekly plans over the web, assigning at-home online tests, and communicating through the internet. This may sound like a modernistic way to learn, however, is there a downside to the rise of technology use in THS?

One popular site used lately, Edmodo, is a less involved version of facebook. Teachers are able to put their class plans on a calendar for an entire month in advance, allowing those “type A” students to plan ahead.

They are also able to post assignments and announcements to the whole class as a group, or just send private messages to individual students. Edmodo allows students to see their grades easily and quickly, which is very convenient. Current senior, John Watts said, “Edmodo and it’s similarities to Facebook attract students and almost make it fun to use.”

Another recent website is Juno, where teachers can assign their classes to take an at home test or quiz.  It is very specific and eliminates most chances of a student cheating by giving teachers the ability to set a time limit (darn technology!).

Interestingly, the way students access these new site is also more advanced. Now,  almost all classrooms at THS are supplied with smartboards in place of a regular chalk/white board. Additionally, each of the websites mentioned above is available as an app on the oh-so-famous iPhone. (Even more of an excuse for students’ noses to be glued to their smartphones). Soon, our students will seem more like a business corporation than a class if we continue in this direction!

The fact that THS is up to par with the modern ways of learning reflects well on the school to outsiders. Obviously, it is much faster accessing information through the web than through reading books.

Most text books can be accessed through online versions, making for less to haul around. Being able to communicate with the teacher so easily is a benefit to the student and to the teacher, so there is no confusion between them. With the ability to test at home, much of the time that would be taken up in class could be spent learning instead. So, overall this conversion to high tech THS should allow students to get a more thorough education, more easily.

The most important thing that must accompany new technology is the proper set of skills to use that technology. Unfortunately, the THS teachers and staff are not smartboard/computer nerds. Many classes have experienced problems with their smartboard during class resulting to using the good ol’ white board.

Also, one would like to think that teachers could rely on something as smart as their computer, however they would be mistaken. Computers can freeze, shut down, or just plain old freak out. If a student was taking their Juno quiz at the time of a computer melt down, their grade automatically is a zero for that grade.

In fact, John Watts had a similar experience. “I took a Juno quiz at home on my iPhone and my mom called. My test was submitted after answering only two questions.” While this could be fixed by the teacher if they allow them to try again, but this involves trust between the student and teacher.

What if the internet at one student’s house is out for a day, and they can’t access their homework on Edmodo? It becomes an inconvenience which has to be dealt with the next day. Vital class time is wasted trying to figure out how to get the pen to write or the random red line to erase on the smartboards. Time is spent explaining how to use these new applications and what to do if they don’t work, and dealing with them when they fail. Again, this could be solved, but it is time consuming.

So, is it worth the time and effort it takes to get the whole technology thing down pat to avoid these types of issues?

THS teacher, Mr. Basbagill agree that this technology is an overall advantage. “I have faith that things will come together, but until then it will be a hassle,” said Mr. Basbagill.

Whether or not its use will progress in THS depends on how well it goes this first year of use, and if these teachers ever get the hang of these darn smartboards!

Many people also think this tech-savvy generation has been significantly effected from this boom of new products, and not in a good way.

THS teacher, Mr. Blanc, said: our generation has “lost the ability to think.”  He meant that this generation of teens has become lazy and uncreative. Everyone can instantly get the answers to any question, in the palm of their hand.

THS senior Cristen Yakush agrees, one of her most recent tweets was: “People are so dependent on technology it’s sad.”

Will future generations continually become more reliant on these things? As the products get smarter and smaller, the world will become more and more reliant on technology.

“Teaching and learning facts will be less important,” said Mr. Basbagill. He thinks that because facts are constantly becoming easier to access, teaching them becomes pointless. As many adults his age may agree, he said, “I feel lucky to have been part of a generation that didn’t rely on technology. Only time will tell how the future will truly be affected by this revolution.”

3 Responses to Technology in the Classroom Defines Student Learning

  1. Logan Ratick says:

    This is a really relevant article. More and more teachers are no relying on technology as a method of teaching their students.

  2. Laura McNaughton says:

    I agree with what Mr. Basbagill said about the future of learning facts–the more easily accessible material is, the less one will have to regurgitate. The goal now is to promote creativity and insightfulness more than ever before. Is that so bad?

  3. Melissa Giblin says:

    I personally think the use of technology for education today is helpful and efficient. If a student is absent forever, it is likely they can access what they missed and have it ready for the next day. Also, sites such as edmodo allow a class to communicate outside the classroom. If a student is confused about something, they can post in edmodo to be answered by both their teachers and classmates. Although it has its faults, I believe technology will continue to improve the learning process.

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