Commentary

Let’s Get Digital

As students of the twenty-first century, we have grown up amid the rapid development of classroom technology. In elementary school, I witnessed new-fangled technologies, like computer labs and electronic whiteboards, being installed throughout my school. Teachers made a big deal about the new technology, even if they didn’t have a thorough understanding of its implementation or potential. Since then, progress in classroom technology has not ceased.

Despite the excitement around this new technology, there has been considerable debate over whether or not it is truly beneficial in the classroom. From my experience, the impact of technology in the classroom varies. There are many factors to consider: will technology distract from learning? Do teachers know how to integrate it into the curriculum? Do teachers even know how to effectively use the technology? In situations where these questions can be addressed, technology can be a positive force in education with numerous benefits.

Generally, people believe technology serves as a wonderful academic aid. According to a “U.S. News” article published in September 2012, Dell conducted a survey of 1,500 students, parents and teachers in the United States, Germany and China. Nine out of 10 respondents felt that technology has helped their ability to learn, and 82 percent of respondents said that they felt the need for technology to play a bigger role in classrooms.

Technology can also help make communication more streamlined between mentor and student. As each student is different from the next, the best teachers and classrooms are those that are able to accommodate all the students most effectively. Also, by allowing students to send in questions or concerns in an e-mail to the teacher, the learning experience can be extended beyond the classroom.

In our own community, technology is being integrated into the classroom at Andover in efforts like the recent addition of iPads to select chemistry and math courses. iPads are versatile devices which can be carried easily while also enriching the learning experience.

Some say, though, that students are perfectly capable of learning without such devices. Before technology, students learned material and passed exams just the same.

However, to deprive a modern educational system of technology would be to put its students at an immediate disadvantage. There is no denying that technology has become a permanent part of our society, and the sooner we learn to use it, the better.

There are practical and economic advantages to using technology in schools. Storing textbooks on our devices is environmentally friendly, and e-books cost less. Communication with teachers is more efficient. With modern software, students are able to learn at their own pace. As a result, students are able focus on the areas they are struggling in, and teachers can easily track their students’ progress.

Still, technology is not a crutch; we cannot expect it to miraculously boost our intellect and GPAs. The knowledge we retain is within us, and not saved onto our computer desktops. If we truly wish to learn, we should strike a balance between technology and our own minds. Students should keep in mind that access to technology only helps when used correctly. We are fortunate to live in a time where we are able to access knowledge with a few clicks, so let us use technology in the classroom to its fullest potential.

Ada Li is a two-year Lower from Reading, MA.