Use of education technology is a somewhat problematic premise, because it has generated a heated debate on whether it helps or hinders learning. Recent dramatic increases in technology in our society have led to proliferation of technology in the learning institutions (from elementary school to the graduate school) at a rapid rate. Integration of technology in schools has changed today’s education and also the way teachers and students use their classrooms. These changes have both positive and negative impact on learning. Here is how technology helps and hinders education.
Technology has revolutionized how teachers teach and how students learn. The importance and benefits of education technology to the teachers and students cannot be ignored. Technology has made it easier for teachers to impart knowledge to the students and for students to acquire it. The use of technology in schools has also made the process of learning and teaching enjoyable.
Technology as a Teaching Aid
Just a decade ago, teachers used chalk boards, then progressed to white boards and now they are using smart boards. Smart boards are advanced boards which allow teachers to teach and share information with students in a multiplicity of ways. Computers audio-visual capabilities from PowerPoint presentations and other animation software are used to present information in an interactive manner which invites greater interest from the students. Moreover, use of projectors, screens and addressing systems (speakers and microphones) allow teachers to teach a large number of students simultaneously. Studies show that these teaching aids increase concentration levels of students and have led to improvements in student class attendance.
Easier Accessibility of Information
With internet being a vast information base, students are finding it an effective tool for acquiring knowledge. Students can now retrieve all types of information easier and faster than ever before via their personal computers or cell phones.
The Internet has given education a new dimension – distance learning and online education. Students no longer have to physically attend classes to be a part of one classroom. They can attend a class virtually at the comfort of their home. Numerous educational institutes are currently offering online courses, where students interact with their teachers over the internet and access learning materials from the institutions’ website.
Distraction to the Students
The positive effects of technology such as communication, entertainment, and ability to make life more manageable can turn out to be a hindrance to learning in the classroom. Various kinds if entertainment from mobile devices such as playing games, texting, or surfing the net distracts students in the classroom. Moreover, with the ability to communicate easily, students tend to text or communicate with each other when they should not be doing so. This is a major distraction which heavily impacts on their concentration levels.
With technology, now, students can make good grades effortlessly, because they can easily search for solutions for any kind of problem they come across in various search engines. Technology has made cheating simpler than ever before, with minimum probability of getting caught. For instance, students allowed to use a calculator in a particular test, can write a program on it that contains all the answers and formulas that they need to pass the exam. Another example is that a student can take a picture of their homework and send it via email or SMS to their friends, who copy it and submit as their own. Thus, technology has made it easier for students to cheat in the exams with minimal chances of getting caught.
So, does technology help or hinder learners? The answer to this question is – it all depends how you use it. Handled poorly, its impact to education can be disastrous! But if handled well, it can facilitate learning. Just as we have found out, technology can be a powerful learning tool, and it can also be a powerful tool for cheating. It can gallantly open new doors and learning possibilities, while at the same time open some that are better off left closed, because some topics are not appropriate for some age groups. It can also be used to inform, but also to distort. If not utilized properly, the positive effects of technology become negative which continue to hinder students’ success.