Is purchasing technology for schools helping or hurting students?
October 25, 2018
Schools today are increasingly dropping older ways of teaching and moving towards more technology based ways for students to learn. This has resulted in an increasing amount of schools putting money towards purchasing technology. This week, two reporters got into their ideas of whether spending money on technology in schools is ultimately helping or hurting students.
The pros of schools spending money on technology
Technology has become an increasingly important tool in schools. Computers are used for classroom assignments and homework. There are many important roles technology plays in schools, which is why it’s important that schools put money towards purchasing it.
Technological devices, such as tablets and computers, benefit students in the sense that they make students’ notes more accessible. If a student takes notes in a notebook, they have to carry the notebook everywhere they need it. If notes are taken on a computer, students can pull out a phone or borrow a friend’s and have the notes accessible to them right away. Students having access to notes wherever they go could benefit them on tests to achieve an overall higher grade in the class.
Technology also gives students access to many different resources for help in a class. During a class, a student can search many different resources to fully understand the material being taught by the teacher.
While technology is expensive, so are classroom textbooks. Many textbooks are available online for free. If each student was issued a school iPad or computer, many students would excel in subjects they might be struggling. Students carrying around their own technological device, such as an iPad, will have all the information they learned in the school day at home.
Notes and online textbooks on one simple device could also save students from having to carry around a heavy backpack. By eliminating physical textbooks and notepads and using online ones, students would no longer have to haul 10-20 pound packs on their back for the school day.
Teachers also benefit from technology in school. Through online programs, a teacher can look at each class and see who has and hasn’t turned in assignments with no headache of having a paper with a missing name. Online multiple choice assignments can also be graded automatically by the computer, giving the student their score right away and the teacher more time to work on lesson plans.
Technology helps students and teachers have a more stress free life and access to assignments anywhere they go. This is why schools should spend money on technology.
Why schools should not spend money on technology
Schools these days put too much money towards purchasing new technology. This is not necessary and may be hurting students more than helping them in the long run.
While some technology may be helpful for learning, making schools even more technologically based may be harmful to children, some of which are already spending countless hours in front of screens by the time they’re out of elementary school.
In this day and age, the average child spends around 5-7 hours in front of a screen, according to an article on MedlinePlus.gov. All of this screen-time can amount in sleeping problems (for all ages), an increased risk of having attention problems, anxiety, depression, as well as a higher risk of becoming obese, as these kids are not being active during this excessive screen-time.
Since all this screen-time gives students attention problems, we may be hurting kids’ chances of doing well in school if their ability to pay attention gets messed up with all this excessive technology. When practitioner, Victoria L. Dunkley M.D., reported her experience with kids who spend too much time in front of screens, she said, “These children are impulsive, moody, and can’t pay attention.”
She credits the attention problems to a study showing that people who spend too much time in front of screens acquired brain damage by loss or shrinkage of brain tissue in areas like the frontal lobe, which is used for planning, prioritizing, organizing, and impulse control (which helps you get work done).
There was also a reported loss of volume in the striatum and insula which are responsible for governing how you act and respond socially as well as how compassionate and empathetic you are. How can we expect kids to do better when we are putting them in front of screens and impairing their ability to get work done and act socially acceptable?
Schools are constantly doing fundraisers and applying for grants to get extra money for school activities. Twelve states have actually reduced funding, and school districts have actually been reducing their number of workers, although the number of students in those schools is increasing, according to an article from Center on Budget and policy Priorities (.org). There is no need to waste valuable resources on new screens, laptops, projectors, and other brain-damaging and time-and-resource-wasting things.
A study was taken to find out whether computers really helped students do better, and according to Open Knowledge Repository (OKR), “The study failed to find that the computers led to any measurable increase in student test scores.” This result, suggested by researchers with OKR, might be because teachers are spending so much time teaching students how to use the computers, rather than actually teaching students the subjects.
If schools really want to help students, they will need to find more necessary things to put their money into, such as bigger parking lots, better sports facilities, and better theatre departments.