Although societies have always incorporated technology into the educational experience, modern developments are changing how we picture the classroom of tomorrow. It can be a significant tool that we use to connect the younger generations with the knowledge they need to become tomorrow’s leaders. We use it in the pedagogical methods available to today’s students in a variety of ways.
Instead of using the traditional chalkboard, teachers are now facilitating group instructions by using electronic whiteboards. This tool makes it possible to teach languages, social studies, mathematics, and science in interactive ways to help their students understand concepts more rapidly. Technology flips educational opportunities by using their personal devices to watch lectures or complete work on a school server.
We have grown far beyond the computer lab in the modern school by having affordable technology options available to each student. Videoconferencing, mobile learning, and virtual field trips are just some of the ways that schools are preparing children for tomorrow’s world.
All of this technology comes at a cost which is usually funded by taxpayers, so poor communities may not see these advancements as quickly. The pros and cons of technology in education also cover these additional thoughts.
List of the Pros of Technology in Education
1. It creates active engagement with the learning material.
Technology is an interactive resource that teachers can bring into the classroom. It helps students learn new skills or understand the curriculum more effectively because they are using a hands-on approach for research, work, and receiving feedback. This tool makes it possible for students to become more passionate about what they are learning because it allows the classroom to focus on individual engagement while still offering a group setting.
Instead of looking at pictures or listening to a teacher lecture, technology allows for the inclusion of interactive tools, videos, or even games that help to teach core educational concepts.
2. It addresses real-world issues in the classroom.
Instead of creating a sheltered environment in the classroom for students, technology brings the real world to them in a meaningful way. The Internet allows students to research current events which are related to the curriculum for the institution at that moment. It gives children an opportunity to further understand the lesson they are learning because there are moments of practical application available to use.
When students have an opportunity to practice what they learn immediately, then they can retain up to 90% of the information that the teacher relayed in the classroom. If the format of learning is lecture-based, then that figure can drop to as low as 10%. That is why having technology in the classroom is such a critical investment for many communities.
3. It provides an opportunity for simulation and modeling.
Simulation software allows teachers to bring real activities into their classroom that would be impossible to see without the presence of technology. Specific tools make it possible for kids to see planetary movements, how a tornado develops, or even how past civilizations made a life for themselves on our planet. This tool makes it possible for dinosaurs to become alive, phonetics to become easier to understand, and other dynamic characteristics which are not always possible when using the static models of previous generations.
Humans are visual learners, so technology provides video resources, animation, and other tools that make it possible to bring core learning concepts to life in meaningful ways.
4. It allows students and teachers to continue the discussion outside of the classroom.
Through the use of software tools and the Internet, it is possible for students to create online groups that reflect their classroom. Teachers can create web pages and blogs as a way to communicate to parents what they are teaching at school each week. Forums, social media, and virtual communities make it possible for real-time connections so that the discussion which happened inside of the classroom can also occur outside of school hours.
By having more opportunities to hear and read the opinions and experiences of others, it becomes easier for students to start refining how they think. This process creates a foundation where it becomes possible to reach a deeper understanding and higher levels of comprehension over specific subject materials.
5. It doesn’t limit the learning opportunities to what is available in the community.
The Internet also makes it possible for students to connect with others from around the world to gain an alternative perspective on what they are learning. It is possible to interact in real-time with international classrooms, teachers, and students to see what other cultures think, say, or do regarding the subject being studied under the current curriculum. Because we are no longer bound by the walls of the classroom or the resources of a single community, technology allows us to understand more about ourselves because we receive more exposure to the diversity of humanity.
6. It provides an opportunity to create working groups.
There are times when every student should be in front of a computer, tablet, or other mobile device when technology is brought to the classroom. By having immediate access to this tremendous resource, it is possible to pursue an individualized learning lesson with little difficulty. This benefit allows students to create working groups with one another even if they are not sharing space at the moment. When these groups get together, then it establishes democratic group ideas while encouraging discussions, debates, and activities which tie-in to the lesson for the day.
7. It offers an opportunity to coach students toward success.
It would be fair to say that the modern teacher is closer to a coach than an instructor. Instead of being responsible for the delivery of a lesson, it is necessary for today’s classroom to offer support and guidance for every student activity. The role of the teacher is to offer feedback while coaching the class to receive academic training and the appropriate lesson for the curriculum that the school follows.
It is now the role of the teacher to guide their students in the development of research, problem-solving, and decision-making skills.
8. It creates more opportunities for assessment and comparison.
Technology in the classroom ensures that students are learning the concepts they need for a robust education well becoming familiar with the tech resources they have at their disposal. Activities typically include critical thinking exercises, problem-solving skills, and personal interactions with software, video, or games to set the stage for development. These tools give teachers constant feedback regarding the progress of each student, making it possible to individualize lessons while still maintaining a group environment.
Teachers can also use the information stored by technology for comparative purposes with other students. This benefit can apply at the local, community, state, or national level. By viewing how successful a child is in relation to their peers, it becomes possible to see where there might be learning gaps to fill.
9. It provides students with a meaningful vocational skill to use later in life.
Computers are never going away at this point in time in our culture. We are spending more time in front of this technology for our vocational work then arguably at any other time in our history. By giving students an opportunity to practice their tech skills, typing, coding, and other skills, teachers make it possible for today’s children to be ready for the careers of tomorrow. The tools help students to learn new words, check their spelling, and even save notes for future needs so that the studying experience can replicate what a job feels like later on down the road.
List of the Cons of Technology in Education
1. It is up to the teacher and school administrators to bring technology into the classroom.
Nancy Kassebaum once said, “There can be infinite uses of the computer and of new age technology, but if teachers themselves are not able to bring it into the classroom and make it work, then it fails.”
Teachers must know how to use the technology items in their classroom for this set of tools to become useful for their students. If there is a whiteboard present and no one knows how to use it, then the product is a wasted investment. Students still go to school each day with a blank slate because they are ready to learn. That means it is up to each district to ensure that their instructors are up-to-date on their tech training, receive an ongoing education, and have supports in place to facilitate the learning experience in the modern classroom.
2. It still requires teachers to present a structured lesson plan.
“Any teacher that can be replaced with a computer deserves to be,” said David Thornburg. Technology does not replace a teacher. It is simply a tool that instructors use to reinforce the lessons that they are offering to their students. Assuming that the Internet can provide children with all of the information they need to be successful in life will almost always create a negative outcome. We must have the skills necessary to integrate technology seamlessly into our current learning environments instead of viewing it as an add-on item to a structure lesson plan so that there is a deeper desire to keep learning.
3. It is a tool that can come at a tremendous cost for some schools.
North Iredell Middle School, which is located approximately 60 miles north of Charlotte, gave each of its 650 students a MacBook Air computer to facilitate the learning process in March 2014. The equipment was part of a $20 million federally-funded plan by the school district to issue technology to seven high schools and nine middle schools.
“This is about changing the way we instruct students,” said Patrick Abele to Time Magazine at the time. He served as the Executive Director of the Race to the Top District grant. The project helped to improve student grades and performance, but not every school district in the United States has access to $20 million in funding outside of whatever local funds they receive from property tax levies.
4. It can become a distraction to the learning process.
The joke about having a parent’s computer fixed by their child isn’t far from the truth in most families. Kids often know more about technology because it is available to them in the classroom. Since they can understand how to use it at an advanced level, it is possible for some brilliant minds to work around any firewalls or blocks that are in place to facilitate the educational use of this tool. You might find students watching videos that are unrelated to the lesson plan, chatting with their friends on social media, or playing games instead of focusing on the learning lesson.
Parents, teachers, and administrators must work together to identify students who are using technology in an inappropriate manner in the classroom. As with any child who is bored with school, there is an excellent chance that the manipulation of a computer or network reflects the fact that they are not being challenged enough by the curriculum.
5. It can overload the network of the school because of the number of required devices.
When you begin to distribute technology to the teachers, students, and other staff of a school, then it becomes very easy for the local network to become overloaded. It is up to each district to ensure that there is a robust design in place that can handle all of the wireless devices that it may need to serve. Many of the schools in the United States use a wireless network infrastructure that was designed for the previous generation of students when online activities were restricted to a single computer lab.
When every classroom has each student on a laptop or tablet to facilitate learning, then the bandwidth levels can deplete severely almost immediately. This disadvantage requires each district to complete a wireless site survey if they plan on making any significant changes to how technology is used in their classroom.
6. It comes with the threat of a safety breach.
Most students are not malicious when using technology in the classroom, but they are curious about what they can find online. Most kids look for ways to push the boundaries of the rules just to see if they can. If your network grants them admin access in any way, even if it is not published or widely known, you can bet at least one person is going to figure out that gap to exploit it.
Security is one of the most significant challenges of having technology in the classroom, and it is the reason why many schools have decided against using this tool in the past. It is up to each district to ensure that role-based access controls are in place on every computer so that you always know who, what, when, and how connections to your network occur.
7. It provides students with an opportunity to cheat.
Students who wanted to cheat in the past might have listed answers on their arm, created a small piece of paper to reference, or even looked over the shoulder of a smart friend. Thanks to the presence of technology in the classroom, it is easier than ever before to create notes or hidden files on a device that can provide the answers to a test or report. There are even freelance platforms where papers, book reports, and other assignments can be purchased so that the homework can be outsourced.
Thanks to changes in the tools we use with our technology today, this issue is not as prevalent as it once was. Software companies are creating access points where administrators and teachers can see student screens while in the classroom. This disadvantage will continue to evolve as blocks occur, so it is up to everyone to stay on their toes to ensure the learning environment remains healthy.
8. It creates a risk of damage.
Kids present a higher risk of damage to the technology in the classroom because they are still learning how to use their bodies. If you have ever seen a child go through a growth spurt and struggle to stay coordinated, then apply that to the first handful of incidents where they receive access to an expensive device. It is imperative that all students receive a quick tutorial on how to use and care for what they receive in the classroom. Investing in durable cases and covers for the product is helpful as well, while all districts will want to consider an insurance policy that can limit the losses that inevitably occur.
This risk includes the potential of losing the device if schools issue a computer to a student that becomes their own to use 24/7. There must be a policy in place that dictates what the response must be should this issue occur, and parents must sign-off that they understand their responsibilities in this area to limit potential losses.
9. It creates a pace of change that can be challenging to meet.
Some schools are unable to keep up with the rapid pace of changing technology. Upgrading equipment is a costly chore for districts today, and there are some institutions that may not have the human capital present to manage the shift. Since the average classroom has about 20 students and each device may need work to meet the expectations of the current curriculum, there are times when there just isn’t enough money to go around.
This disadvantage impacts school districts in poor or rural communities most often because they have fewer resources available to them for use. A bring-your-own-device policy doesn’t help here either because every institution has families that cannot afford to purchase computers or tablets for their children.
10. It changes the social dynamics of the classroom.
When students are using technology as the primary component of their learning process, then they are not spending as much time with face-to-face interactions. This disadvantage changes how kids interact with each other socially, shifting how relationships and friendships form. It may become more challenging to understand the various non-verbal cues that are present in communication, which means having friends in real life feels different than a virtual friendship.
When technology is used for teaching, students may not take their teacher as seriously if they are learning online since there are fewer methods of discipline available to help maintain a child’s focus. You can’t exactly send a student learning at home with a tablet to the principal’s office.
Conclusion of the Technology in the Classroom Pros and Cons
The rate that technology continues to evolve is remarkable. In less than a generation, we have gone from having a small computer lab in the wealthiest schools to providing students with their own device to encourage learning inside and outside of the classroom. It is possible to connect with teachers in a variety of ways, create interactive lessons, and encourage research skills that will be useful in future careers.
We must work to balance the risks that are present with the use of technology as well. The curiosity of students could lead them down a path toward identity theft, cheating, and other possibly negative outcomes.
The pros and cons of technology in the classroom help us to provide mobility to the learning experience. It allows teachers to create interesting lessons that incorporate a variety of ethnic and cultural perspectives. What this investment provides is access to diversity, which is why it offers the next generation an advantage of strength when those in charge carefully monitor how each item is being used.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.