Years ago, all a student needed in the classroom was a pencil and paper. But in our modern world, pencil and paper have been replaced by keyboards and computer monitors.
Many are wondering if that change is a good thing, though: can children learn better through technology? Does technology have a detrimental effect on education, or does it actually help both teachers and students? While research into this field is limited, Expatica explores how technology impacts learning as well as student performance.
The pros of technology in the classroom
While it may seem that schools have only recently become digital, technology actually has been used for decades. The benefits of technology in the classroom are only growing.
Increase student engagement
Using technology in the classroom increases student engagement. Students show more interest, attention, curiosity, and positivity in regards to learning. Specifically, one of the biggest drivers in the increase of student engagement is 1:1 computing programs; here, each student uses a personal computer, laptop or tablet in the classroom. The Google for Education program, for example, gives students Chromebooks and a range of Google products. Students use their Chromebooks to discover virtual museums or even the world with the Google Cultural Institute and Google Earth.
Students in certain European countries already show high engagement and positive feelings towards their schools; that’s according to the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), but access to technology during school can give them an extra boost. Students in one study showed marked enjoyment in using the technology. It creates an environment in which they’re more willing to learn beyond the assignments.
Increase student success
Schools want to make sure their students succeed — and technology can be the way to do it. In one study following technology immersion, in which students were given a laptop and technical and pedagogical support, testing results rose in the language arts areas. A report from the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education analyzed over 70 studies to show that students at risk of failing or dropping out demonstrated increased graduation rates and university attendance when technology was integrated into the classroom.
Let teachers teach
Students aren’t the only ones to benefit from technology in the classroom. For teachers, standing in front of students and holding a lesson is not the only facet of their jobs. They spent countless hours preparing lessons, correcting students’ work, speaking with individual students and arranging lesson materials. Technology, however, lifts some of that responsibility off their shoulders.
Instead of creating, printing out and copying lesson materials, teachers can use apps such as Google Classroom to handle assignments. Teachers can facilitate discussions, make announcements, and monitor homework all from within the web-based platform. They can access it anywhere, anytime, and on any device. It’s all web-based, and it’s paperless — and better for the environment, too.
The cons of technology in the classroom
With every new method or technique in teaching, there are always some drawbacks. Traditionalists may look down upon technology as too distracting for students. That might be true in cases where students use their own devices with access to social media. However, using the Google for Education domain, schools can filter and restrict according to their needs and ensure students are using the internet safely.
Some students may also be far more familiar with technology than others, creating an imbalance in the classroom that might not have otherwise existed. Whether for lack of money or interest in technology at home, students with limited experience may have to play catch-up simply to be able to learn. At many schools, new students and their parents receive tutorials for Google apps in the first week of school. Collaboration between the students is also beneficial.
So far, the pros outweigh the cons of technology in the classroom. With students becoming more engaged and more successful through technology, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes the conventional way to learn.