Technology in the Classroom: The Untapped Benefits
These weeks, social media has been abuzz with the news of Apple releasing its newest products, including the iPhone 7. While digital devices are sometimes viewed as a necessary evil in today’s increasingly interconnected world, there are many uses for them that often go unrealized. The younger generation is clearly the most enamoured by the newest advances, but do they always use these devices to their fullest?
Several schools in Ontario now implement a “Bring Your Own Device” policy that allows students to use their phones, MP3 players and tablets in a classroom to enhance their educational experience. Most schools have a limited supply of computers that must be shared by the entire student body. Allowing students to use their own devices decreases the demand placed on these limited resources.
Parents may immediately be skeptical and assume that more devices in the classroom would cause a proportional increase in student distraction. Several studies have been conducted on the efficacy of the use of technology in the classroom. While technology most certainly can become a distraction to less motivated students, there are numerous benefits and advantages to maintaining its use in the classroom.
Students can conduct their own research and inquiry when using a mobile device capable of accessing wireless Internet. Instead of addressing seemingly insignificant questions to their teacher in the middle of a lesson, they can research the answer themselves. By sharing their new-found knowledge, the teacher can initiate a class discussion on the topic.
Furthermore, students who have Individual Education Plans (IEP’s), or who face difficulty with writing legibly, can use their devices to take notes. This allows students to stay on track and at the same pace as their classmates while the teacher is explaining. Submitting digital files for evaluation can also reduce the chance of a teacher misplacing students’ work. Teacher can also use this as a time-stamp to verify assignments were submitted on time.
The use of tablets in particular serves many practical purposes. Instead of having to print hard copies of worksheets, teachers can upload files to a class website and students can access the file on their device, thereby saving paper (and no longer letting “my printer ran out of ink!” fly as an excuse). The expense of purchasing graphing and scientific calculators can be circumvented in this manner, as well.
Even MP3 players can be beneficial. Students can record podcasts in lieu of oral presentations. If the teacher permits, auditory learners could perhaps record the lesson to playback later at home. Some students can concentrate during independent work time better by tuning out the chatter around them and listening to familiar music instead.
There still may be some who remain firm in their belief that technology poses far greater harm than good, especially in regards to distractions from texting and messaging other students. It can be argued that students who don’t want to pay attention will always find a way to shirk learning. After all, before cellphones, didn’t students pass notes back and forth while ignoring their teacher?
All in all, technology poses many benefits in the classroom, to both pupil and instructor. In fact, some students prefer to use technology itself as a classroom. Grade Learning offers several high school credits in an online learning environment. These are perfect for students who want to upgrade a mark, fit in an extra course into their schedule, or learn at their own pace. For more information about these courses, please visit us at Grade Learning Online High School Credits.
So, next time you go out to buy a new phone, tablet, or other digital device (many of you are probably anxious to get your hands on an iPhone 7), consider the educational applications of your purchase.
Debika Thiruchelvam is the online biology and English teacher at Grade Learning. She has a passion for science and literature and hopes to instill an appreciation for both in her students through the emphasis of inquiry and creativity in her teaching.