Guest Post: Technology in the Classroom; Where Should the Line be Drawn

Guest Post by: Will Clevett

Having laptops and tablets in classrooms has been a muchNo Laptops debated subject, with many studies done on both sides of the fence, showing both the benefits and drawbacks from students having computers in class. The potential benefits are already being used to great effect in forms such as distance learning. For future uses of technology, we could find adaptive teaching techniques allowing children to effectively have their own digital tutor which can adapt and change the level and techniques being used to help that child learn, based on their responses to previous work, and apply pressure to continue stretching the boundaries of their learning.

Many naysayers say that technology provides too many distractions and makes people less knowledgeable, as they rely on their technology to store data rather than their memory. However, this is an age-old argument which was first recorded in approximately 370 BC by Plato in his conversation with Socrates, quoting an Egyptian king:

“For this discovery of yours will create forgetfulness in the learners’ souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember of themselves. The specific which you have discovered is an aid not to memory, but to reminiscence, and you give your disciples not truth, but only the semblance of truth; they will be hearers of many things and will have learned nothing; they will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing; they will be tiresome company, having the show of wisdom without the reality” ~ Plato

Naturally this isn’t about computers or the internet; this was about the downsides to writing and the change that the written word presented to the world, though it’s also disconcertingly easy to apply to modern trends in technology, with the rise of the internet and mobile devices allowing people to connect constantly. While the above statement appears to have been wrong, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will remain so for the internet age.

The key distinction is the difference between using technology to support learning efforts and using that reason as an excuse to keep up to date on Facebook, and it may be true that having such easy access to social media platforms and other sources of information may just be too distracting. Google have reported that the average Android user checks their phone around 150 times a day and, despite being a middleweight phone user, I can’t deny that my usage fits into this ballpark.

This has led to many teachers banning technology in their classrooms, most commonly the mobile phone for the distractions they can cause everybody else, but following a study done by Professor Cliff Nass in 2009, it actually looks like people who try to multitask with technology are actually worse at concentrating on any of the tasks than people who don’t try to multitask. This study even led to a lecturer in social media (of all things) at New York University banning laptops and tablets in their classes unless actually required for the work.

The fact is that, for most people, computers are an everyday part of life and, as such, this should be reflected in teaching as it has been. The growth of technology has been especially helpful to many further education institutions, such as universities, allowing many students to remote control equipment from half a world away. This gives students opportunities they otherwise simply wouldn’t have had. For example, astronomers often require facilities a long way from light pollution and they may often need to take measurements from the other hemisphere, which is all now possible with the internet. Such skills are very transferable as well, with most jobs requiring proficiency with computers, at the very least, and many jobs in industrial computing requiring the remote access of equipment.

So at the end of the day, it looks like technology is going to be a massively important tool going forward in teaching at all levels. It is, however, also something which will need to be used responsibly and innovatively to structure learning rather than as a quick solution to problems.

Can You Teach Computer Science Without a Computer?

You can get students interested in computer science even if your school doesn’t have enough computers. In fact, you can get students so passionate about computer science before they even turn the computer on.

Forget about engaging them before you turn the computer on.  You don’t even need a computer to teach computer science. Watch how Computer Science Unplugged separated the computer from computer science.

Visit csunplugged.org for activities and teaching guides.

“14 Things that are obsolete in 21st century schools”

The following article was published by Ingvi Hrannar Ómarsson, an Icelandic elementary teacher & Entrepreneur, on his blog, www.ingvihrannar.com.



The Wired Child

The Wired Child

Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

Tolerance

Tyler Clementi ended his life because his roommate thought it would be funny to stream a live feed of him having “sexual encounter” with a male.  Clementi reported the incident to his RA, but we all know what happened: investigative red tape.  And then Dhrun Ravi tweeted about another encounter Clementi was having and streamed it live again.  In what I can only imagine as shame, embarrassment, violation, and humiliation, Clementi decided to take his own life.

Clementi jumped off the George Washington bridge, but the actions of Ravi’s “prank” put him there and essentially pushed him off.  He should not prosecuted simply for streaming the content, a maximum sentence of 5 years, but manslaughter, even murder, assisted murder.  Even on the video report by Linsey Davis has a friend of Ravi’s stating no matter who Clementi was with, Ravi still would have completed the prank because that just is the kind of guy Ravi is.

This is a hate crime because it is intolerance, even if the “hate” is obvious.  It is bullying, it hurtful, it is making fun of someone else.  It was not a “prank” because it is not funny.  Ravi invaded his roommate’s privacy, abused Rutger’s University’s internet privileges, abused the end user license for iChat, and provided the catalyst for this death.

As a future teacher, I will not tolerate intolerance.  Hate and closed-mindedness do not belong in a classroom.  I also want to ensure the faculty at my school believes in the same ideals, otherwise it will not be a positive environment.

I read the other day another bullying news story about food allergens.  Bullies are waving granola bars with peanuts or peanut butter in them in the faces of children with peanut allergies.  Kids think allergies are funny – “haha Timmy can’t eat peanuts so I’m going to threaten to shove this granola bar down his throat”.  Or they throw peanuts at the kids who break out in hives and skin rashes when a peanut grazes their skin and bullies sit there and laugh while they’re scolded by teachers.  I do not believe in physical discipline, but sometimes those defiant ones just need a good one to burst their ego trip.  But I will have to find other ways to control my frustrations and channel their defiance and bullying into more positive avenues.

Luckily, where I grew up, I didn’t see too much physically bullying.  But I know it was there.  I received psychological bullying, due to my large size and overall awkwardness, but that type of warfare I can look for and do my best.

That’s my spare change of opinions on tolerance for the day.